A heart specialist has given evidence before an Employment Tribunal after he was sacked by a Hospital Trust in 2010.
Dr Raj Matthu was suspended by the University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust in February 2002 on allegations that he had been bullying and harassing other staff members. He had previously – in September 2001 – “gone public” with his experiences of overcrowding in NHS hospitals, a decision he states was due to his witnessing on television a hospital manager insisting that lives had been lost due to overcrowding. Dr Matthu therefore published details of an experience he had had in 1999 where he claimed that five patients had been allocated to four bed-bays in an NHS hospital, leading to hospital staff being unable to use vital equipment to save the life of a 35-year-old man. An HS review cleared the NHS Hospital Trust of any wrongdoing relating to the overcrowding in 2004.
Dr Matthu was cleared of the allegations of bullying and harassment in July 2007 and returned to work. He was, however, dismissed in 2010 after what he claims was a “witch hunt” was carried out against him.
The Birmingham Employment Tribunal heard evidence from Dr Matthu that he believed that the Trust had instructed the head of security at the hospital to spy on him in order to gain information on potential misconduct or incompetence by Dr Matthu. He alleges that this information was used to “engineer” a complaint against him, the result of which was his dismissal in 2010. Dr Matthu further stated that he believed that the reason for his dismissal was the fact that he had blown the whistle in 2001 and that the Trust’s “unlawful actions” had damaged his health, professional reputation and his livelihood.
It was alleged for the Hospital Trust that the reason for Dr Matthu’s dismissal was in fact the result of his poor relationship with other hospital staff, with apparently more than 40 colleagues at the hospital in Coventry having fallen out with him prior to his dismissal. Dr Matthu replied to this that he had worked in nine hospitals previously and had never had a personal problem with anyone in these hospitals.
The Tribunal is expected to continue until August and a judgment is expected to be given later this year.
Redmans are employment law solicitors based in London