Gemma Gardner

Iliffe Media

My first submission follows a series of exclusive articles about the extreme pressures facing Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge as Covid numbers again began to rise last year. These included a piece on the number of staff absences after a tip off from a whistleblower. That article led to the discovery of a hospital staff website - via some Google searching - that was available to the public where daily bulletins and a weekly video briefing with staff were posted. I went searching through the site’s content to see what I could find and discovered an internal warning from the chief executive that patients may have to be sent to London. The article was shared by a number of prominent health professionals including Independent SAGE member Trisha Greenhalgh and health campaigners and politicians in Cambridgeshire. It achieved 94,296 page views on our website, with the majority coming in the first 24 hours.

My second submission came after I was contacted by a whistleblower about the conditions at the Rosie Maternity Hospital in Cambridge. The whistleblower got in touch after reading articles I’d written about staffing at the hospital trust, which were being discussed by staff. I encouraged the whistleblower to speak with me to explain the situation and he provided a frightening picture. After the interview, which was exclusive, he agreed to be named and put me in touch with other colleagues who had been affected. My research led to the discovery of a warning from the General Medical Council that I was able to incorporate. After publication, I was contacted by Dr Stocks who said it was “a really excellent article” adding “you’ve done a fantastic job” and that management had discussed the staff’s issues. My third submission centres on a safety audit for a cycle improvement scheme that found an increased risk of collisions. I discovered that this had been known before the works were approved. I had been working on concerns raised by residents about the scheme when I learned the audit backed up their fears. The audit had been produced as part of the planning process but the application had not gone to committee for decision, so was not easy to find. It was further complicated by the fact that the improvements themselves were a condition of a wider planning application for a new town in the area. I had to wade through extensive council documents to find the audit, and the response the developer had given. I completed the story by gathering comments from a resident and parish councillor and the county council. Editor Paul Brackley said: “These exclusive articles were the result of dogged determination, hours of research and the nurturing of good contacts - and they're exactly the kind of content that readers value us for.”