Were we surprised by the news today that Mason ‘Champagne Charlie’ Fitzgerald has been caught out for having fake qualifications? Not really. We already knew he did not have the right calibre of skills and personal qualities required to drag NSFT out of ‘special measures’. Thanks to top class investigative reporting by the BBC we can show we were right. Yet again, high quality journalism delivers the scrutiny in the public interest of which ‘Future Baroness’ Marie Gabriel the Board of NSFT, the Care Quality Commission, and NHS England seem incapable of. Here is the link to the BBC report: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-56041119
Tom Bristow of the Eastern Daily Press explains the issue:
“Mason Fitzgerald is due to become chief executive of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) in April, but the Trust confirmed it was now carrying out an independent review into why its annual report states Mr Fitzgerald has a Master of Laws degree (LLM) when he never graduated.
The LLM is listed under Mr Fitzgerald’s qualifications on the NSFT’s 2019/20 annual report, as well as the last two annual reports of the East London Foundation Trust (ELFT), where Mr Fitzgerald worked from 2005 to 2019.
He rose to become an executive director of that trust before joining the NSFT in November 2019.
On his LinkedIn page, Mr Fitzgerald stated he had an LLM from the University of Georgia, but that was recently changed with the words “degree not awarded” added.”
Read the full report here: https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/health/nsft-boss-mason-fitzgerald-inquiry-into-degree-claim-7563102
We expressed our concerns, about Fitzgerald’s appointment as the next CEO of NSFT, as soon as he was appointed.
We have consistently said that the appointment of Champagne Charlie as £175k per year CEO of NSFT was a total disgrace. Not that anyone listened. That’s because his appointment was yet another example of blatant cronyism amongst of the ‘A Team’ (aka ELFT gang) at NSFT.
This isn’t the first time the A Team have been found not to be all they are cracked up to be on the qualification front. ‘Former’ Professor Warren acquired his nick name for also elevating his qualifications. When he joined NSFT he was called ‘Professor Warren’ in all the publicity generated by NSFT. We found out he was actually a ‘visiting professor’ (an honorary position) and was not entitled to use the title professor. We called this out and the title was quietly dropped. You would have thought this might have alerted Fitzgerald to the importance of not claiming qualifications you do not have. But no. He continued to allow his LMM to be used on board papers.
What Fitzgerald claims, is the polar opposite of the truth. How hard is it to pack your belongings into cardboard box and write an email of apology to your colleagues at NSFT as you leave? But not Fitzgerald, he’s ‘waiting for the outcome of the investigation’. We have long suspected that the expensive champange-loving Fitzgerald will be reluctant to give up his well paid post. It’s easy to understand because very few people educated to BA standard are able to command c£175k a year. Very few of the people who need treatment from NSFT can afford to take up golf. We think Fitzgerald (in the centre) might not be scoring a ‘birdie’ today.
There have been other disastrous appointments at NSFT. There was ‘Fake doctor ‘Zholia Alemi who they employed twice. Twice. She landed up with a prison sentence. If NSFT were really a ‘learning organisation’ they might have spotted a deficit in their HR processes. They clearly were not checking employees with qualifications gained abroad. Basic, basic, stuff that is essential in the NHS. Like verifying information provided by applicants to posts. But then we know they are happy to promote a nurse with a criminal conviction for driving under the influence of cocaine whilst on duty. We know they have ‘recruitment issues’ but service-users deserve better than these muppets..
It all comes down to values and what the leaders think are important qualities of their senior staff. There is a desperate need for the CCQ to intervene. Is NSFT well-run? There’s more chance that the cast of Sesame Street could do better.
It could be argued that Fitzgerald has obtained an unfair financial advantage by claiming to have qualification that he does not have. This can be a criminal and police matter. What does NSFT is ‘investigating’ mean? Will it be the A Team coming to Fitzgerald’s rescue with a cover story? An excuse about an ‘administrative error’? We have heard all the excuses before. Or, (about as likely as the Cookie Monster telling the truth about where the biscuits have gone), will NSFT leadership team do the right thing? Act with integrity? Show the values that are needed?
As we said six weeks ago, who is going to turn out the lights at NSFT as the ELFT gang beat a retreat? Will Fizgerald hang on, become the next CEO without the confidence of staff, service-users and carers, and lead the trust out of special measures? He obviously has not done the decent thing and stepped down. We can only summise he will hang on, spin a good tale, continue to have the backing of his cronies, and lead NSFT through the land of make-believe. A dystopian horror fantasy for those who are trying to access a service.
We will not rest until there is a CEO at NSFT tweets with the integrity, skills, qualifications and experience to lead the trust effectively. This matters to service-users, carers, staff, and bereaved relatives. People like bereaved relative, Roy Livermore, who knows first-hand how duplicitous NSFT can be. He is quoted in the BBC report about Fitzgerald as follows:
“The family of Doreen Livermore, who questioned the trust’s culture after a PR manager last year boasted of having “got away with” minimal media coverage of the 89-year-old’s death, said the mistake raised further concerns.
“It’s a lot of public money going into these posts and I think we have a right to demand that the people that take on these jobs are completely transparent and trustworthy,” said her son Roy Livermore, of Snettisham in Norfolk.
“In a situation like this, where the [chief executive] is going to be responsible for a huge number of people throughout Norfolk, it’s a scandal really.”
We agree, it is a scandal. One more scandal in a long list of scandals. Will Fitzgerald ‘get away’ with misrepresenting his qualifications? If he does a massive NHS budget will be in his hands. Money from the public purse in the hands of someone who is at best sloppy (lets be generous and accept it was a mistake) or at worst, downright dishonest. Either way it’s not good enough.