Bury Free Press/Suffolk New
I am the head of multi media news at the Bury Free Press newspaper and Suffolk News website. I began my journalism career at the then Scarborough Evening News newspaper after gaining a First Class BA Honours degree in Journalism Studies from the University of Sheffield. After qualifying as a senior reporter at the Scarborough Evening News, I joined the Bury Free Press weekly newspaper in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk as a reporter. I became head of news at the Bury Free Press in 2014 and last November I was made head of multi media news overseeing both the Bury Free Press newspaper and the county-wide Suffolk News website. While managing the paper and website I also endeavour to write stories for both titles. My submissions relate to the town's West Suffolk Hospital which was the subject of national media coverage after bosses were heavily criticised in a damning report over an 'intimidating and disastrous' attempt to identify a whistleblower. I did cover this incident but it has been well documented in the national press so I wanted to submit examples of work which highlight the ongoing problems at the hospital and the pressure the hospital's trust and staff face due to external issues such as lack of NHS dentistry in the area, workforce shortages and the backlog of work resulting from the pandemic. The first is a whistleblowing letter which we received from midwives who highlighted the 'demoralising and heartbreaking' problems in their department. They declined to name themselves for 'fear of retribution' and said the situation was 'now so critical' they had no choice but to whistleblow. I believe my report placed further pressure on the trust to improve and the midwives' concerns were referred to the trust's Freedom to Speak Up guardians in order for action to be taken to resolve the situation. My second submission relates to the ever-growing shortage of access to NHS dentistry in Bury St Edmunds and Suffolk. As a result I submitted an FOI to West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust to find out how many people were attending the hospital's A&E with dental problems because they couldn't find an NHS dentist. It showed the numbers turning to A&E have gradually increased over recent years, creating pressure on the hospital. I spoke to someone who turned to A&E for emergency work (within the main piece) as she had nowhere else to turn as well as a pressure group and a healthwatch group. I also secured a piece from a local GP who himself was in need of dental assistance. The piece to the left is written by a colleague. My final submission is an FOI highlighting the number of sick days taken by staff at the trust due to stress, anxiety and depression. It was designed to show the ongoing pressures staff at the trust are facing and what is being done to help those who are struggling. I spoke to UNISON and Suffolk Mind about the issue.