Disabled surgeon win over £80000 after wrongful sacking

A surgeon at Basildon Hospital in Essex has been awarded almost £84000 after he was unfairly dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct.

Former NHS surgeon Arjuna Weerasinghe was fired after making complaints that the hospital was badly lacking in equipment and facilities. Weerasinghe claimed that he was unable to get hold of suitable equipment to help him stem the flow of blood on an extensive bleed during an operation in 2010. In the incident report, Mr Weerasinghe warned Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Trust lacked the necessary equipment.

Later, the surgeon developed a serious lung infection that impacted his day-to-day ability to do his job. Mr Weerasinghe also claimed that he contracted pneumonia from working in the trusts theatres which he deemed to be filthy and had not had a proper clean for a few years.

During the tribunal, the NHS Trust claimed that Mr Weerasinghe was sacked for gross misconduct and nothing to do with the fact that he had contacted pneumonia from one of their operating theatres. They claimed that Mr Weerasinghe had purposely misled the hospital over the pneumonia as he was able to attend interviews for alternative employment and attend training courses in mainland Europe whilst on paid sick leave. Mr Weerasinghe also failed to meet with his manager, the Clinical Director, when asked. Based on these findings, Mr Weerasinghe was disciplined and dismissed.

The London Employment Tribunal ruled in the favour of Mr Weerasinghe, finding that Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Trust had failed to obtain medical reports, refused access to Occupations Health, refused a request to travel while threatening a deduction in salary if the travel was made, refused to honour holidays accrued and not taken in addition to several other areas of concern. The tribunal ruled that these were all acts of ‘unfavourable treatment’ by the NHS Trust arising from his lung infection, thereby ruling that the Trust had discriminated against him and unfairly dismissed him.

The Tribunal agreed to significant compensation for Mr Weerasinghe, including £32000 for injury to feelings, £8000, for unfair dismissal, retraining costs, £30000 for his reduced earning capacity and almost £7000 for the psychological impact of the events and finally a further £5000 due to the trusts behaviour.

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