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Chief Minister apologises over treatment of Dr Rosalind Ranson

Tue, 09 May 2023

The Chief Minister has given an apology to the Island's former medical director.

Dr Rosalind Randon won an employment tribunal and will recieve more than £3M in compensation.

Alfred Cannan gave an urgent statement in the House of Keys earlier.

His full apology is below:

Almost exactly twelve months ago I determined it was in the public interest for me to respond to the liability findings of the Employment and Equality Tribunal considering the Dr Rosalind Ranson case despite the matter remaining sub-judice. 

Last week, the Tribunal published its decision regarding the compensation for Dr Ranson and this has understandably brought again to the fore the matters that in May 2022 Honourable Members were rightly concerned to see addressed.  
Even today as I speak, the case remains technically sub judice – as set out in Standing Orders.  Mr Speaker, I regard the matter of sub judice as requiring review and clarity and will be writing to the Standing Orders Committee of Tynwald accordingly.
But I am speaking today against this backdrop because I feel it is in the national interest to do so and because it is of vital importance that the actions that we put in train last year continue to be recognised and implemented.  
Indeed, I want to make it clear and remind everyone, that last year I set out a robust response to the substantial findings of the tribunal. 
I was clear that the Liability judgement of the Employment Tribunal in May 2022 that was determined in favour of Dr Rosalind Ranson made uncomfortable reading. Regrettably, it did not reflect well on the professionalism of our public service irrespective of the fact that the core actions that laid the foundations of this tribunal happened during a period of national crisis.
I was clear that the Liability Judgement had raised a number of substantive questions regarding Government performance and culture and had understandably damaged confidence in Government. 
I was clear about our deep discomfort that we felt with the evidence and findings of the tribunal as set out in the Liability Judgement, and I acknowledge our shortcomings. 
I was clear that we needed to make changes to Government - structural changes, cultural changes and organisational changes because we cannot retain the status quo. We have been taking action over the past twelve months to effect that and to deliver meaningful changes.
Mr Speaker, we have looked at governance, the structure of public service accountability and how senior officers are overseen and held to account. This included an independent review of the role of the Chief Secretary and how it interacts with Chief Executives. As we speak, we are in the process of recruiting for the Chief Executive Officer Isle of Man Government with a refined job description that emphasises the need to performance manage Chief Officers.
We have put in oversight through the creation of an Operational Performance Board and its work is now underway.  The Operational Performance Board brings greater support and guidance to the Chief Executive Officer and provides for more visibility and robust input into problem solving across departments.
We have examined how non-executives can form part of governance arrangements in Departments and updated the Government Code accordingly.  The opportunity exists now for Board advisers to give advice and support on the operational implications and effectiveness of policy proposals, focusing on getting policy translated into results. They will operate according to recognised precepts of good corporate governance in business, leadership, effectiveness, accountability and sustainability. Enhanced departmental Boards need to be able to challenge, advise on and supervise five main areas: strategic clarity, commercial sense, talented people, results focus, and management information.
We have strengthened whistleblowing policies in the public sector, we have commissioned an independent review of the Office of Human Resources which is due to report shortly and there is the ongoing Great Place to Work programme across the Public Service with work streams refocusing in making the Government an employer that looks after its employees. 
Finally Mr Speaker, we now have a confidential Integrity Line service up and running, that allows confidential and anonymous, if wished, reporting of concerns for staff across the entire public service. 
This work is well and truly underway Mr Speaker and I remind you of this substantial response because it was imperative last May, when the Liability Judgement was published, that we acted and this Government remains committed to the delivery of this change
Nevertheless Mr Speaker, although my response at the time highlighted my serious concerns at the findings of the Tribunal, my statement at that point was constrained by the sub judice rules that I have referenced. I feel therefore today it is entirely appropriate for me to go further and express not only my deep regret that Dr Ranson was subjected to such unprofessional and damaging behaviours whilst in post as the Medical Director, but to offer my deepest apologies for the harm she has experienced - which the Tribunal has recognised in their Liability Judgement and has reflected in the compensation award now made in the Quantum Judgement.
Mr Speaker, Dr Ranson in her statement said that this must not be the end.  I entirely agree. In fact the striving to reach excellence in governance, management, performance and productivity must always continue and, as I have said, there are various initiatives which have been put in place following the liability hearing last May and which continue.  There are a number of ways in which now this must continue to be accomplished.
Firstly, the root causes of this matter were laid in the heat of the battle against COVID. When I spoke last May, I quoted the Tribunal’s words which were that:
This Decision is not an investigation…[in any way to] which the Manx Government handled the Covid 19 pandemic.
As Honourable Members will know that Review is now well underway and is being conducted entirely independently by Kate Brunner KC, who has full access to all records and is also taking evidence from those who were directly involved as well as seeking submissions from members of the public. Ms Brunner is due to report her conclusions and identify any recommendations for consideration to Tynwald by 31 December 2023.
The advice and the authority of Dr Ranson, the flow of information, access to Ministers, the command and management structures in place must now be matters for the COVID enquiry and Kate Brunner KC. It is not for me or anyone else to tell Ms Brunner how to conduct her enquiry but I point out that the Tynwald approved Terms of Reference for the Review provide that if at any time the independent Chair considers that a specific area should be subject to a more formal public inquiry, the Chair may make such a recommendation to Tynwald in their report.
Secondly Mr Speaker questions have been raised regarding the approach to the litigation, in relation to which there has been a significant amount of criticism, reporting and speculation. 
Mr Speaker, it is vital that the public have confidence in the manner in which Government conducts itself when facing judicial challenge.  It must have confidence that Government is conducting itself properly and with appropriate advice and decision making.  
The Council of Ministers recognises that this matter needs to be addressed but also recognises that this is not a straightforward
matter.  It is an area which requires specialist legal knowledge. I can therefore inform you today that the Council of Ministers intends to recommend to Tynwald that a further independent assessment needs to be undertaken the Department’s management of the Tribunal process and that an appropriate independent senior member of the Bar is most likely needed to undertake this work. It is clear that the majority of the tribunals criticisms focus on the conduct of the Department during the liability hearing and this will need to be the key focus of any inquiry.
Thirdly Mr Speaker, we must ensure that our public service works to the highest standards of governance and integrity. We must have governance that ensures we do not rely solely single individuals, at senior levels, to such a degree where they could become a point of failure. All of our public servants are entitled to a working environment where accountability and mutual respect co-exist. I set out a clear Council of Ministers response to improve governance and culture last year. We remain committed to improving governance and culture throughout the public sector.
Mr Speaker the findings of the Tribunal in May 2022 in their Liability Judgement and the subsequent award are of deep concern and I apologise again to Dr Ranson. This is not the end of the matter and we must all continue the work underway to improve governance, performance and culture and of course strive to nurture and protect our greatest asset; our people.  


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