Don’t spit in the soup!

There has been a lot of talk in the NHS recently about freedom to speak up. Read more→

By chance, a friend recommended this book – the inspirational story of Emma O’Reilly, arguably the most courageous whistle-blower of our time – having exposed the truth about Lance Armstrong and doping on an industrial scale. 


The Race to Truth‘ tells initially of the stresses and risks of ‘turning a blind eye’ to doping;  the drive to tell the truth, which led Emma to go public; and the fury unleashed on her – but ultimately it is a story of redemption.

It should inspire NHS whistle-blowers, potential whistle-blowers and anyone with an interest in the duty of candour that should (but all too often doesn’t) exist in the NHS.



Don’t ‘cracher dans la soupe’

This is the paragraph that woke us up to the relevance of Emma’s story to the NHS:

“There was a saying in cycling that you didn’t ‘cracher dans las soupe’ – ‘spit in the soup’: the unwritten rule that you just did not speak out. You do not disrespect the sport… so rebellion of any kind couldn’t be tolerated on or off the road. This was cycling’s omertà – its code of honour. You kept secrets. Those who spoke out risked facing the wrath of the rest of the sport, even of their own teams.”

This is a metaphor for the treatment of  NHS whistle-blowers – except that we’ve not yet heard of any NHS whistle-blowers being labelled a whore and a prostitute.

And without wishing to publish a ‘spoiler’ for those who wish to read Emma’s book, potential NHS whistle-blowers should consider one of her conclusions:

“I’d been brought up to tell the truth … and that in the end the truth always wins.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, or how little you seem, or how long it seems; what’s true is bigger than anyone or anything.” 

Emma also describes, “The sheer sense  of serenity” brought to professional cyclist, Tyler Hamilton when he told the truth after 13 years of denials, lies and cover-ups.

The Race to Truth should be an essential training tool for NHS directors and staff in relation to the statutory Duty of Candour. It is a cracking read for sports enthusiasts too.

And of further interest to medical professionals, over 10 years ago, Emma set up The Body Clinic Hale, one of the most successful private physiotherapy clinics in the North West, dedicated to providing services for the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of all types of injuries and their related problems.

Of course, it’s a great pity that Emma is ‘lost’ to the NHS. What are the chances of a whistle-blower with the courage to take on Lance Armstrong (and effectively the whole of the professional bike-racing community) being given a job in the NHS – especially after a human resources expert at the NHS’s ‘solicitors of choice’ described whistle-blower, Maha Yassaie effectively as too honest to work for the NHS.

‘The Race to Truth’ and Tyler Hamilton’s story, ‘The Secret Race‘ are available from Waterstones, all good bookshops and online: published by Transworld Publishers, part of the Penguin Random House Group of companies, whose Publicity Department has approved this blog post.

© Front cover photograph: Offside/Pressesports



More Southern Health tragedies



Hampshire mother paid £260,000 compensation after finding her daughter’s body: no beds available. Read more→ 

Care-co-ordinator from Romsey Community Mental Health Team to Coroner after loving father found hanging at his home: “If someone needs a bed they will get a bed.” Try telling that to ‘Hampshire mother’ above (and others). Read more→

Family of Word War II hero seeks damages for allegedly, “A distressing and degrading ordeal [for their loved one] brought about by a catalogue of hideous errors.” Read more→

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Duck-billed platitudes¹



¹ Reference Professor Chris Hatton’s comments on one of Southern Health’s Annual Report and Accounts. Read more→


3 thoughts on “Don’t spit in the soup!

  1. Pingback: Learning opportunities | Campaign for Reform At Southern Health

  2. Pingback: Our strategy is to wear them down! | Campaign for Reform At Southern Health

  3. Pingback: Rest Day | Campaign for Reform At Southern Health

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