- St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust agrees settlement with Professor Jahangiri
- Senior surgeon took legal action after being excluded from work at the trust last August
- Trust also dismisses independent review which led to surgeon’s exclusion
A trust has reached an out-of-court settlement with a wrongly excluded senior surgeon and apologised for the “distress” the legal proceedings had caused her.
In a joint statement released on behalf of the provider and the consultant cardiac surgeon this morning, St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust admitted it had wrongly excluded Marjan Jahangiri last August, adding that it “accepts that it failed to correctly follow its internal procedures”.
Professor Jahangiri was initially excluded on 9 August 2018. An operation scheduled for that morning had to be cancelled. A second decision to continue her exclusion was made on 24 August off the back of an interim independent review into the south London trust’s surgical team. Only the General Medical Council can suspend a doctor but their employing trust can exclude them from work.
The trust’s decision was overturned by the High Court later that month after Professor Jahangiri took legal action against the provider. The decision had been taken by the chief executive, then medical director and director of corporate affairs, the court heard.
The court heard the surgeon, who was awarded the British Medical Journal’s clinical leadership team award last year, had been embroiled in disputes within the unit. At one point, she was sent a dead animal and a decapidated doll by persons unknown.
Today’s statement said: “The trust apologises to Professor Jahangiri for excluding her, for the subsequent interim proceedings in the High Court, and the distress that this caused her. Professor Jahangiri and the trust have entered into a private settlement in relation to these matters, the terms of which are confidential.
“The trust has taken steps to learn from these events to ensure that this does not happen to any other member of staff.”
The statement also noted the findings of a review it commissioned of the cardiac unit had been “set aside… in light of concerns raised about [it]”, adding the report “did not enable [the trust] to resolve its concerns about working relationships within the cardiac surgery unit”.
The trust has made a number of appointments to senior positions recently. In November last year, the trust announced it had appointed a new associate medical director to run the heart surgery unit. Steven Livesey has joined the trust for a year on secondment from University Hospital Southampton FT.
Professor Rhodes’ witness statement to the High Court said the decision to suspend Professor Jahangiri had been a joint one between himself, director of corporate affairs Stephen Jones and chief executive Jacqueline Totterdell.
After the first publication of this story a spokesman for the trust said this was incorrect and rhe decision had in fact been taken by Ms Totterdell, Professor Rhodes and the deputy director of HR Jacqueline McCullough.
An independent panel is currently reviewing the deaths of up to 250 patients treated at the unit over a five-year period from 2013.
The joint statement in full
In August 2018, Professor Jahangiri was excluded from attending the cardiac surgery unit of the trust, in connection with a commissioned review about the working relationships in the cardiac surgery unit. The exclusion did not relate to patient safety concerns or to Professor Jahangiri’s skills or competence.
In excluding Professor Jahangiri, the trust accepts that it failed to correctly follow its internal procedures. On 28 August 2018, following an interim injunction hearing at the High Court on 24 August 2018, Mr Justice Nicklin handed down his judgment on the interim proceedings, that Professor Jahangiri’s exclusions were unlawful and issuing her with an interim injunction requiring the trust to lift the exclusions. In compliance with the court order, the trust immediately lifted the exclusion.
The trust confirms that the commissioned review was completed and that after detailed consideration it decided that it did not enable it to resolve its concerns about working relationships within the cardiac surgery unit. Further, in light of concerns being raised about the review it was decided to set aside its findings and take no further action in respect of it. The trust is resolving issues within the cardiac surgery unit through the appointment of Steven Livesey, an experienced cardiac surgery specialist, to lead the cardiac service. Professor Jahangiri welcomes the involvement of Mr Livesey and looks forward to working with him.
The trust commends Professor Jahangiri’s long-standing commitment and dedication to the cardiac surgery service and to patients. She has helped build the unit and has been instrumental in training many other cardiac surgeons. Professor Jahangiri is the aortic lead at the trust and she plays an important role in research within the cardiac surgery unit. In 2018, Professor Jahangiri was awarded the BMJ Clinical Leadership Team award and was one of three finalists for the Silver Scalpel Award for training excellence at the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Association of Surgeons in Training.
The trust apologises to Professor Jahangiri for excluding her, for the subsequent interim proceedings in the High Court, and the distress that this caused her. Professor Jahangiri and the trust have entered into a private settlement in relation to these matters, the terms of which are confidential.
The trust has taken steps to learn from these events to ensure that this does not happen to any other member of staff