A mental health trust has been slammed for the way it handled the unlawful sacking of a psychiatrist with mental health problems.
Northamptonshire Healthcare trust, which is applying for foundation trust status, has now offered an undisclosed sum to consultant Dr Anders Skarsten following the highly critical employment tribunal.
In July an employment tribunal ruled that Dr Skarsten, who suffers from severe depression, had been unfairly dismissed by the trust in August 2006. The trust had discriminated against him during the disciplinary procedures on the grounds of his disability.
At the time, the trust said Dr Skarsten’s contract was terminated because he had deliberately misrepresented himself as a consultant without being on the specialists' register.
But the tribunal said this was mainly due to a series of administrative errors outside Dr Skarsten’s control. In handling the dismissal and subsequent appeal in February 2007, the trust had failed to take account of his illness.
'The respondents’ [Northamptonshire Healthcare Trust] handling of the dismissal was outrageous,’ said the highly critical tribunal judgement.
‘They flouted not only every one of the statutory provisions…but every consideration of common decency and humanity.’
The tribunal heard Dr Skarsten had surgery for a spinal tumour and suffered 'a catalogue of personal disasters' in the past few years.
The trust’s actions in dismissing Dr Skarsten were ‘indefensible’ and its handling of the appeal ‘a travesty’, said the tribunal.
The impact of the mishandled sacking on top of that 'can only be imagined', said the judgement.
The trust said it had learnt 'clear lessons'. A review following the tribunal has led to changes in HR, communication and disciplinary procedures.
The trust and its lawyers and lawyers who acted for Dr Skarsten said they could not confirm the amount of compensation as all parties were bound by a strict confidentiality agreement.