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Cardiologist automatically unfairly dismissed for whistleblowing

The Court of Appeal has held that a cardiologist was unfairly dismissed for making a whistleblowing complaint despite the hospital’s argument that the disclosures were not protected because they were made in bad faith or were not in the public’s interest.

The Claimant was involved in an invasive procedure that led to a patient's death. During the course of the operation, his most trusted nurse, Sister Jones, was suspended. So far as the Claimant was concerned, the timing of the suspension was irresponsible and the nurse's absence from theatre contributed to the patient's death. The Claimant made various disclosures related to this incident and his belief the actions compromised patient safety resulting from what he considered to be a lack of sufficient specialist staff.

The hospital decided the allegations were without merit, motivated both by the Claimant's antagonism to the department's assistant director and his wishes for Sister Jones's reinstatement. Disciplinary proceedings were brought against the Claimant and he was dismissed. The court held that the principal reason for the Claimant's dismissal was the making of protected disclosures and thus his dismissal was automatically unfair.

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