• Senior manager unfairly dismissed after raising concerns about staffing, tribunal rules
  • Judge rules chief executive of patient transport firm asked claimant to mislead client
  • Secure Care UK says it has made significant changes since dispute

A manager has won his employment tribunal against a patient transport company he alleged had misled clients over staffing.

Richard Mott won a claim for unfair dismissal after being made redundant one day after raising concerns about Secure Care UK, a firm that transports mental health patients, who have often been detained under the Mental Health Act.

The tribunal heard the organisation had significant staffing difficulties, both for drivers and for manning the operations room.

The judgment issued this month said: “The claimant says and I accept that [chief executive] Femi Sanusi had instructed him to inform a client that they had staff available to cover an assignment when they did not.

“He told Mr Sanusi that ‘I do not work like this’. He went on to say that the [company] was in breach of CQC [Care Quality Commission] regulations, health and safety law and working time regulations. He said that the health and safety of patients and staff was in danger. He threatened to contact the CQC and the Information Commissioner.”

The company argued none of this was put in writing and it did not happen, but Judge Siddall said: “I accept that it did take place first because Mr Sanusi was not present [at the tribunal] to provide his version of what happened, and second because [of] the events of the following day.”

The next day, 27 September 2018, Mr Mott was called into a meeting with Mr Sanusi and then executive chair Robert Taylor and made redundant along with the HR manager “with whom he was in a relationship” and two others, the tribunal found.

Secure Care UK employs approximately 130 staff and has a turnover of £3.5m. It holds contracts with two mental health trusts and seven clinical commissioning groups in Hampshire, plus Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust and Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation Trust.

Mr Sanusi no longer works for the company and is now managing director of Norfolk-based Health Connections Patient Transport Services.

Judge Siddall said in his judgment: “The claimant states clearly that the lack of staff meant that he could not ‘provide the services required to our staff and clients’. I accept that the situation he describes ‘tends to show’ that the respondent was in breach of legal obligations towards NHS clients and regulatory requirements imposed by the CQC.”

The company is appealing the decision and the payout it was ordered to make to Mr Mott earlier this month.

In an interview with HSJ, Secure Care UK’s new chief executive Matt Jackson said the firm now rigorously enforces rules on rest breaks for its staff.

Mr Jackson, who started in March, also said Mr Taylor was now just chair, working one day a week at the company.

Mr Jackson said: “All of our services are properly staffed. We are not perfect but we are working very hard to improve.”

He said all staff now had full employment contracts and were not hired as workers.

The company, rated “requires improvement” by the CQC, said it had completed the action plan the regulator had imposed at its last visit.

In a statement, Mr Jackson said: “The organisation that could be perceived by the judgment does not resemble the great group of people I am very proud to lead today. Although we are not perfect, we are improving and care passionately about the standard of care we provide to our patients.”

HSJ has contacted Mr Sanusi for comment.