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Depressed Hospital Consultant Fails to Block Disciplinary Inquiry

Hospital CorridorA hospital consultant facing a number of allegations, including failing to respond to out-of-hours emergency calls and attempting to speed the progress of one of her private patients to the top of an NHS waiting list, has failed in a High Court bid to block internal disciplinary proceedings that could lead to her dismissal.

The consultant had suffered from a severe depressive illness and argued that the disciplinary case against her breached Department of Health guidelines and was fundamentally misconceived in that the six specific allegations against her related not to misconduct but to capability and health issues.

It was submitted that, by couching the disciplinary process in terms of misconduct, her NHS Trust employer had breached the implied term of trust and confidence in her employment contract. She sought damages and an injunction to restrain the process, which had been put off pending the Court’s decision.

However, in dismissing her arguments, the Court noted that procedures for the proposed disciplinary inquiry had been modified so as to fully cater for the health concerns raised by the consultant. Each of the allegations, if found proved, was capable of being categorised as misconduct, the Court found.