Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

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  1. #1
    Basic Account Holder Mrs Scientist Novitiate

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    Exclamation Help with NHS Disciplinary Hearing - Likely Dismissal

    Hi there, I'm urgently looking for help on behalf of my husband who has been suspended from work for the last 3 weeks and is awaiting a disciplinary hearing next tues (20th) with the strong possibility of dismissal for gross misconduct.

    We are beside ourselves with worry as we know the person who commissioned the investigation and actioned the hearing does not like him. She has gone as far as to say as much. I am on maternityicon leave and have no income coming in at this time and we are worried about the consequences of dismissal.

    My husband and I both work in the NHS as Scientists. My husband is a manager of a laboratory. He has an exemplary track record as an excellent manager and very strong references from previous employers. As such he has climbed the career ladder quickly and is one of the youngest lab managers at 33!

    He started working for this trust in 2008 and has virtually no training or support from his line manager since he started. When he started working there he replaced a man that was also moved from post! and inherited a department in all sorts of trouble with lack of protocols and in fighting between staff.

    His line manager ordered an investigation in to 7 allegations against him back in November 2009. The last 2 were unsubstantiated and dropped. The remaining 5 were upheld and as mentioned the hearing is next week.

    The whole incident relates to a locking mechanism on a fridge containing blood failing within the hospital. My husband was notified of the problem in the middle of the night at home and first thing the next morning he went to the fridge to assess the problem. He called the engineers straight away and arranged for them to look at it. The engineer arrived within 24 hours but said a new part was needed.

    My husband believed the matter would be resolved within 72 hours. Unfortunately, on the day the engineer arrived to repair the fridge my husband was on annual leave - we were moving house! The new part broke in the engineers bag and 2 of his colleagues took the fridge out of service for safety reasons. This is exactly what my husband would have done had he been at work that day.

    On the day the fridge lock broke he notified his line manger, quality manager and team and the users of the fridge by email and verbally and explained the problem. He also put a notice on the fridge that the lock was broken but the fridge could still be used. If the staff used the fridge following protocol and using the electronic equipment related to it as per training/protocol there would be no problem. The only problem would have arisen if someone completely ignored protocol and removed the wrong blood. My husband arranged for a regular stock take to monitor the contents to ensure nothing was taken inappropriately. The process that the fridge was used for and its contents were unaffected and no adverse incidents arose from the locking mechanism being open. The fridge was repaired and put back into service in 7 days.

    The first allegation is procedural and is that he failed to assess the nature and severity of the problem. At most he may have been naive to assume that staff would have done what they were trained to do. There is no policy or protocol covering what to do in this situation as this problem was not one that could have been foreseen. As soon as the incident happened my husband began to update the protocols on what to do if this happened again - ie take the fridge out of action etc

    The remaining 4 allegations relate to communication. They allege that he did not communicate the problem to his mangers and staff and that his communication was poor. It is also alleged that he ignored the saftey concerns of his staff.

    In the investigation the officer alleged that he had not told his manager and the quality manager although my husband had "read receipts " of the email he sent. The investigating officer then changed track and said that email was not an appropriate method of communication! My husband then produced an email from his line manager that stated all service disruptions were to be communicated via email. This was not included in the investigation report. The investigating officer then said the email he sent was misleading and did not stress the severity of the problem. However, many more junior members of staff understood the situation based on the email.

    My husband also discussed the situation with 2 senior members of the team who now say he "glossed over" the subject and that they did not understand the situation. These 2 members of staff coincidently have voiced strong dislike of my husband since he started working there and he was even warned to watch his back!! One of them has spoken to a very senior manager prior to this event suggesting that my husband was too young and inexperienced for this role. This individual has also lodged complaints of intimidation and harrassment from a clinical colleague and is a know trouble maker. In fact my husband's manger warned him back in September that this lady was playing games!

    The witness statements from his team that were taken to substantiate the claims that "he ignored their safety concerns" are very vague - no one can remember exactly what or when they said anything! and their comments were along the lines of " is it still ok to use the fridge?" rather than "what about patient safety or isnt it dangerous?"

    The manger has followed the disciplinary procedure so far however the report of the investigation was available on the 5th March and we only received a copy by post on 10th April!! Giving just over the 5 working days to prepare.

    My husband is a member of a trade union and is going to be accompanied at the hearing although the member is currently off sick so there is looking like there will be limited or no time to meet to prepare a defence together!

    It just seems that the whole system is stacked in favour of the line manger, she is chairing the hearing, she decides if witnesses are allowed, her decisions are final! But we know she does not like my husband! She has also never expressed any concerns over my husband's performance prior to this incident. He has not received any warnings or been given any opportunity to improve.

    Is the hearing the time and place to bring up the games/harrassment played by the 2 witnesses? or does this look like sour grapes? To top it off some members of staff have been discussing the investigation on facebook!!

    The week this happened we were moving house with no onward accomodation - I moved back with my parents and he stayed with my uncle. We also had a 1.5 month old baby. Can he use this as mitigating circumstances?

    We just feel they've made up their minds already - possibly even before the investigation! HR have told the union rep previously that there is a known bullying culture by these individuals but they are powerless! NHS HR is shocking!!!

    Any advice is greatly appreciated - people say its virtually impossible to be sacked from the NHS - well not in this hospital!!

    I could go back to work early but I work in the same building - how could I face those individuals that took away my chance to be with my baby!!

    I'm sorry for going on and on!! I just feel permanently sick


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Help with NHS Disciplinary Hearing - Likely Dismissal

    Sorry to hear about all your troubles!


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Help with NHS Disciplinary Hearing - Likely Dismissal

    There should be no discussion on facebook...nhs work is private and confidentialicon I would have thought?

    You tried to take this any further? Do you have a union rep representing your husband?


  4. #4
    Basic Account Holder Mrs Scientist Novitiate

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    Default Re: Help with NHS Disciplinary Hearing - Likely Dismissal

    Thanks - Yes he has a rep representing him however, she is currently off sickicon and the hearing is next tues so we are not sure if they will have time to meet to build a defence.

    We have not mentioned the facebook to anyone yet other than the rep as we want to make sure its dealt with properly and not just ignored. We have taken screen prints so that we have evidence if they delete the conversations.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Help with NHS Disciplinary Hearing - Likely Dismissal

    Duplicate thread removed

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    Default Re: Help with NHS Disciplinary Hearing - Likely Dismissal

    You really should get back in touch with the union about this, if your rep is off sickicon someone else should have been delegated to deal with it.

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    Default Re: Help with NHS Disciplinary Hearing - Likely Dismissal

    Hello there. I'm really sorry to hear of your little family's problems and hope we can help. You've had some good pointers already.

    Have you looked at the ACAS website about recommended disc. procedures? They have a confidentialicon helpline that you can ring.

    I think there's quite a lot to unpick here, and hopefully other caggers will be along soon.

    HB x


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Help with NHS Disciplinary Hearing - Likely Dismissal

    Hi 'Mrs Scientist',

    Let us take your post on a point by point basis...

    a) there are protocols in force at the Trust... and, to your knowledge, the ones in force have been followed.

    b) in this particular incident, no specific protocol is in force... [T]here is no policy or protocol covering what to do in this situation as this problem was not one that could have been foreseen. However, your husband drafted a protocol to address the problem and attended to the incident as soon as known.

    c) communication... [M]y husband then produced an email from his line manager that stated all service disruptions were to be communicated via email... and so he did...

    According to management... did he address the problem appropriately? - Did any incident arise from his actions? - Is the protocol drafted by your husband, following the incident, implemented? - What communication channel should he have used to inform them of the incident? and whom should he have informed? What could have been the repercussions if the fridge had been taken out of service all together?

    No protocol is in force in order to address such specific incident but your husband has acted rapidly in communicating the problem to both management and staff having access to the fridge. He, in addition, drafted a protocol to be used in similar cases. His employee files are 'clean'...

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  9. #9
    Basic Account Holder Mrs Scientist Novitiate

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    Default Re: Help with NHS Disciplinary Hearing - Likely Dismissal

    Thanks everyone for the advice given.

    We have looked at the ACAS website and will call them later.

    The union rep is now off sickicon and will not return until after the meeting. My husband has requested that the meeting is rescheduled, as stated in the Trust policy, and is awaiting a response.

    The fault with the fridge was not forseen when the original policies were written. These policies have now been redrafted to cover unexpected problems, which should cover the any similar events but were not implemented at the time of his suspension.

    The management allege that the actions he took did not address the problem appropriately.
    The communication structure is not clearly documented within the department, but my husband did inform his direct line manager regarding the situation. My husband has also received contradictory instructions regarding when and who to inform of matters relating to the service.

    There were no clinical incidents relating to the management of the fault and his decision meant that there was no delay in the provision of blood.

    We will keep you updated as their response regarding the postponement.

    Thanks again to you all.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Help with NHS Disciplinary Hearing - Likely Dismissal

    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs Scientist View Post
    Thanks everyone for the advice given.

    We have looked at the ACAS website and will call them later.

    The union rep is now off sickicon and will not return until after the meeting. My husband has requested that the meeting is rescheduled, as stated in the Trust policy, and is awaiting a response.

    The fault with the fridge was not forseen when the original policies were written. These policies have now been redrafted to cover unexpected problems, which should cover the any similar events but were not implemented at the time of his suspension.

    The management allege that the actions he took did not address the problem appropriately.
    The communication structure is not clearly documented within the department, but my husband did inform his direct line manager regarding the situation. My husband has also received contradictory instructions regarding when and who to inform of matters relating to the service.

    There were no clinical incidents relating to the management of the fault and his decision meant that there was no delay in the provision of blood.

    We will keep you updated as their response regarding the postponement.

    Thanks again to you all.
    To take any pondered action which would have for result the avoidance of any serious outcome is a good and thought action. In the absence of any protocol defining a process to follow, an informed and responsible procedure avoiding a possible serious situation should be regarded as adequate.

    Your husband acted 'reasonably' to overcome the problem he faced and as such has avoided any critical situation in the absence of a defined protocol...

    All direct managers/supervisors and staff under his responsibility have been informed of the situation and the 'protocol' to be followed...

    I cannot see where your husband has failed in his repsonsibilities to act properly...

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