Croydon whistleblowing doctor wins legal battle after sacking for raising safety concerns
MSN and Daniel Barnett have reported that a London NHS trust will be pay compensation to a whistleblowing doctor who was sacked for raising safety concerns following a patient’s death. Croydon Health Services has spent £440,000 on legal bills in a battle with Dr Kevin Beatt, who was sacked as a consultant cardiologist by the trust after whistleblowing over staffing shortages, run-down equipment and workplace bullying.
The trust’s final costs could be over a million pounds after a High Court judge said an employment tribunal had correctly ruled the experienced doctor had been unfairly dismissed for whistleblowing. Dr Beatt led Croydon University Hospital’s department for interventional heart procedures from 2007 until he was fired in September 2012. His sacking came after he spoke out at the inquest into the 2011 death of a 63-year-old patient who suffered cardiac arrest amid complications in a routine operation. Dr Beatt was unaware bosses had suspended his most senior nurse hours before he performed the surgery, leaving him without a nurse with even basic understanding of the procedure for 20 minutes, MSN has reported.
He told a coroner the ward sister’s removal from work was “the most overtly reckless act” he had seen in his career. Dr Beatt had also previously flagged concerns with directors about inadequate equipment, bullying of junior staff, nursing shortages and the failure to properly investigate serious incidents. He should have been afforded protected status as a whistleblower, but the NHS trust dismissed his claims as “vexatious”. It fired him for what it described as “unsubstantiated and unproven allegations of an unsafe service” amounting to gross misconduct (MSN, 2017) But a tribunal in 2014 found no evidence of wrongdoing by Dr Beatt and said the trust had “failed to follow a fair process”. It added the trust had issued “calculated” statements that would destroy the doctor’s reputation. The trust’s appeal against the ruling was upheld in 2015, but this week a Court of Appeal judge overturned that decision and said the protracted legal fight should finally come to an end.
Dr Beatt, 65, from Fulham, has been unable to work in the NHS while fighting his case. He described the case as “unbelievable” that the trust spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in public money pursuing the case in the High Court. The trust’s legal bill could pay for the salaries of 17 nurses on the average NHS pay. Dr Beatt told the Standard: “They are still defending what went on in 2011 rather than saying, ‘we need to move on and put this behind us and get on with improving the situation’ (MSN, 2017).
The cardiologist, who was only able to fight the court battle because legal firm Linklaters agreed to work pro bono, said cases such as his would make whistleblowers “more wary” about raising concerns. He said: “A lot of whistleblowers have lost their case because management have said, like they tried to do with me, ‘you’re a difficult person or you’ve rolled up late for work and that’s why we’re going to dismiss you.’ “Really the true reason is they’re whistleblowers.
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For citation purposes: http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/croydon-whistleblowing-doctor-wins-legal-battle-after-sacking-for-raising-safety-concerns/ar-BBBAKYs?li=BBoPWjQ&ocid=mailsignout and also: Daniel Barnett @ http://www.danielbarnett.co.uk/site/blog/employment-blog/whistleblowing.html [Accessed 28.05.2017]
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