Croydon Advertiser Posted: May 23, 2017|
Dr Kevin Beatt was sacked from his position at Croydon University Hospital in 2012
A heart consultant who was sacked amidst a toxic working atmosphere at Croydon University Hospital has won the right to a big compensation payout.
Dr Kevin Beatt was given his marching orders after “blowing the whistle” on what he believed to be unsafe practices in the cardiology department he founded.
In particular, he believed that a senior nurse’s suspension in the middle of a working day had contributed to a heart patient’s death.
Dr Beatt has been fighting for justice ever since his dismissal in 2012 and has now finally triumphed at the Court of Appeal.
Three top judges agreed with an employment tribunal that Dr Beatt had been unfairly dismissed and penalised for whistle-blowing.
Lord Justice Underhill said relationships between colleagues in the department had been strained for some time before his departure.
He added: “A review by the Royal College of Physicians in 2009 described the cardiology department as ‘dysfunctional’.”
In 2011 the department’s most senior nurse was suspended after a confrontation with two colleagues.
Whilst that was going on, a patient, Gerald Storey, suffered a heart attack during a routine angioplasty on June 9, 2011.
Dr Beatt told his bosses he believed that the 63-year-old had died because a nurse had been suspended without his knowledge, meaning she was unable to help him with the procedure.
Dr Beatt also informed a coroner and a senior GP of his concerns.
In September 2012 he was sacked for gross misconduct following a six-day disciplinary.
His appeal against his dismissal was rejected by a panel led by John Goulston, Croydon Health Services NHS Trust’s current chief executive.
After a 12-day hearing in 2014, an employment tribunal spent 10 days deliberating in chambers before issuing a 201-page report which concluded his dismissal had been unfair.
Ruling on the case today, Lord Justice Underhill accepted that Dr Beatt had been dismissed for “making protected disclosures” – whistle-blowing.
He told the court: “It comes through very clearly from the papers that the trust regarded Dr Beatt as a troublemaker, who had unreasonably and unfairly taken against colleagues and managers who were doing their best to do their own jobs properly.”
But the tribunal had found that this belief, although “sincere”, was “unreasonable”.
The judge added: “It is all too easy for an employer to allow its view of a whistle-blower [being] a difficult colleague or an awkward personality, as whistle-blowers sometimes are, to cloud its judgement.”
Parliament, the judge said, had “quite deliberately, and for understandable policy reasons, conferred a high level of protection on whistle-blowers”.
The judge, sitting with Sir Terence Etherton and Lady Justice King, concluded: “If there is a moral from this very sad story, which has turned out so badly for the trust as well as for Dr Beatt, it is that employers should proceed to the dismissal of whistle-blowers only where they are as confident as they reasonably can be that the disclosures in question are not protected.”
The sum of Dr Beatt’s compensation will be assessed at a further tribunal hearing unless settlement terms can now be reached.