Health secretary vows to get to the bottom of former Lincolnshire NHS chief's alleged gagging order
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has vowed to "get to the bottom" of whether or not former chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust was gagged.
Gary Walker said that he was forced out of his job back in 2010 because he put patient safety and wellbeing above of meeting government targets.
He claims that he signed a "super-gag" order and received £500,000 from the NHS in return for not speaking about his dismissal and concerns for patients.
Bosses at ULHT have denied that they gagged Mr Walker from speaking out.
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Although Mr Walker claims to have been contacted by lawyers on behalf of the trust, threatening that he may have to pay back the £500,000.
Now, the health secretary has said that he is "determined" to find out what happened.
He told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme: "I don't think it's acceptable, I think it is the wrong thing to do.
"I don't want to make a judgement about the truth or otherwise about what Gary Walker said.
"Obviously, there are very, very serious allegations that we need to get to the bottom of, but I'm determined to get to the bottom of it.
The health secretary also revealed he has written to the trust to find out the contents of the settlement so he could establish whether or not it was in line with NHS guidelines on whistleblowing.
He added: "If it isn't, of course I will insist they change it.
"First of all, we must have a culture where people are not afraid to speak out and, secondly, I was very concerned that it appeared that someone was being leaned on not to speak out and, most of all, I want to get to the bottom of whether there is any truth in what he is saying."