A hospital security manager was removed from an investigation into allegations that a patient had been inappropriately restrained because he was involved in another ‘whistle-blowing’ inquiry, a tribunal was told.
Nursing director at the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust Denise McMahon told an employment tribunal she feared a conflict of interest if David Ore was to oversee the investigation.
But Mrs McMahon said Mr Ore had not been suspended from his post as security manager at Russells Hall Hospital, and had rather been granted ‘special leave’ which was for his own protection.
Mr Ore, who was sacked for gross misconduct following a disciplinary hearing in April 2013, claims he was unfairly dismissed for raising concerns about the way patients were restrained.
Mrs McMahon said at the time Mr Ore was temporarily removed from his duties on January 7 last year, he was already involved in another employment tribunal with ‘a whistle-blowing element’.
She said the investigation into the restraint of a patient referred to a specific set of circumstances, and had Mr Ore raised them at his impending tribunal, it could have led to the identification of the patient.
“We were concerned there would be a conflict of interest,” she said.
“I was seeking to protect patient confidentiality.”
Mr Charles Crow, representing Mr Ore, asked why his client could not have remained in his post but been excluded from the investigation.
Mrs McMahon said that had been looked at, but not considered to be practical.
Mr Crow said Mr Ore’s removal from his post had all the characteristics of him having been suspended from his position, but Mrs McMahon said that was not the case.
Mr Crow said special leave would in normal circumstances be something that an employee would ask for, and would not prevent them from returning to work should they want to.
He asked Mrs McMahon: “Have you ever heard of an employee who has been granted special leave being escorted from the site?”, to which she replied that she had not.
However, Mrs McMahon said that the the key difference between Mr Ore’s situation and that of a suspension was that he was not at that stage being investigated for any allegations of wrong-doing.
“We felt it was within the spirit of special leave,” she said.
Mrs McMahon said she was aware that on a number of previous occasions Mr Ore had voiced concerns about the way patients were being restrained.
The Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust says Mr Ore was sacked for allegedly acting dishonestly by using the staff car park when he was not authorised to do so, and alleged aggressive behaviour towards an individual.
The tribunal continues.