Dentist May Hendry who sued NHS Ayrshire and won faces huge legal bill despite damning findings against executives

The Herald 24 March 2018

Exclusive by Helen McArdle Health Correspondent

May Hendry, a dentist based in Troon, won her employment tribunal against NHS Ayrshire and Arran (Pic: Colin Mearns)May Hendry, a dentist based in Troon, won her employment tribunal against NHS Ayrshire and Arran (Pic: Colin Mearns)

A RESPECTED dentist who successfully sued her health board after she was victimised for exposing misconduct has revealed that her legal costs outweigh her compensation despite a damning judgement against the NHS.

Dr May Hendry and her solicitor, Stephen Miller, said the case underlines how difficult it is for ordinary members of the public to pursue legal action against the “unlimited budgets” of the NHS.

Analysis: Case that exposed dysfunction riddling NHS management culture

Dr Hendry, 57, was vindicated at an employment tribunal against NHS Ayrshire and Arran in 2017 in a determination that condemned senior executives for trying to cover up wrongdoing.

Dr Hendry was awarded £80,000 damages for constructive dismissal but this will be slashed after tax, and she also incurred £85,000 in legal costs and expenses.

Whereas successful claimants in negligence cases are entitled to have their legal costs reimbursed this does not apply to employment tribunals, posing a major obstacle to staff who may wish to raise grievances for workplace bullying or harassment.

Although Dr Hendry, a part-time dentist in Troon, will have some her legal fees covered by insurance, she is still liable for much of it personally. Many NHS staff will have no insurance at all.

Read more: Dental firm suspected of misclaiming up to £300,000 avoided fraud probe on instructions of senior NHS executive

Mr Miller, a specialist employment lawyer at Clyde & Co, said NHS A&A had also wasted around £90,000 of taxpayers’ money on a case they were certain to lose.

He said: “The evidence against them was overwhelming, but the board were able to pursue a case knowing that the worst they could lose was £70-80,000 and even if the case took twice as long they wouldn’t have to pay May’s costs.

“So there is a definite point that goes well beyond May’s situation, which is that one of the dangers is that even if you win hands down you could end up having to nurse your own legal expenses.

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