Morecambe Bay consultant was fairly dismissed, tribunal rules

The eye doctor, named on employment tribunal papers as Mr A Hassan, said he developed chronic anxiety due to a ‘stressful’ and ‘unsafe’ work environment at the trust that runs south Cumbria’s hospitals.

The tribunal heard Mr Hassan had raised concerns to superiors about staffing levels, saying an arrangement for one consultant to be on call overnight for hospitals in Barrow and Lancaster was unsafe.

He and three other consultants emailed bosses about the set-up saying ‘this practice without doubt, has been unsafe’.

Mr Hassan continued to raise concerns to his bosses.

The tribunal heard the consultant later took time off due to mental health issues he said were a result of work and did not want to return to work the on call shifts.

In response to his concerns, the hospital conducted internal and external reviews, which found the policy was safe. 

Mr Hassan refused to engage in return to work interviews, the tribunal heard, and was later sacked after bosses told him there had been a ‘fundamental breach of this bond of trust and confidence’.

Ruling Mr Hassan’s was fairly dismissed, Employment Judge Phil Allen said: “In circumstances where the claimant has not been found to have been unfairly dismissed, it was not possible to decide whether the claimant contributed to his dismissal.

“Nonetheless, as the claimant was dismissed for refusing to undertake part of his contractual duties and refusing to engage with his line manager, we inevitably would have found that the claimant contributed to his own dismissal (at least to a significant extent) had we needed to do so.”

He added: “The Tribunal would add that, in practice, it viewed the circumstances of this case as being very sad.

“The NHS lost the services of an experienced ophthalmological consultant for a period of six months during his ill health absence, when in practice he was fit enough to undertake most of his duties, if not all of them.

“It also lost the services of the claimant for the period between his dismissal by the respondent and him obtaining new employment.

“That was unfortunate. The public, and in particular the patients who the claimant would have been able to treat, will have lost out as a result.”

The Westmorland Gazette | News