• West London Mental Health Trust said Hayley Dare acted “in good faith” over bullying and harassment complaints, but not allegations of poor patient care
  • The disclosure comes on the eve of employment tribunal appeal, which the trust said it would have contested

WORKFORCE: A mental health trust has accepted that a whistleblower raised concerns “in good faith”, a year after an employment tribunal dismissed her case.

Hayley Dare lost her claim against West London Mental Health Trust at Watford Employment Tribunal last November, after the judge ruled her complaints about bullying and harassment had not been made in good faith and she was more concerned about losing work.

Steve Shrubb

Steve_Shrubb

Previous chief executive Steve Shrubb chief apologised for comments he made about Hayley Dare

Dr Dare, a psychologist in the trust’s forensic directorate, brought a claim to the Employment Appeal Tribunal earlier this month after a change to the law meant whistleblowers no longer have to prove they acted in good faith.

The trust said it was approached by Dr Dare’s legal team earlier this month and had agreed not to proceed with a hearing, with both sides bearing their own costs.

The trust said: “The trust accepts that Dr Dare raised concerns in good faith about bullying and harassment in West London Forensic Services and the trust took immediate action to investigate the concerns she raised.

“We do not now and have never accepted that Dr Dare made any other protected disclosures about the nature of services and patient care in the trust.”

Dr Dare had alleged that she was forced out of her job after making complaints about bullying, harassment and alleging that two patients had died as a result of botched service changes.

The trust said it had found no evidence to support the patient death allegations, although it would not release copies of its reports to the HSJ under the Freedom of Information Act.

Dr Dare was targeted with an anonymous, threatening poison pen letter weeks after she raised fears about a culture of poor practice within the trust’s forensic clinical unit.

The tribunal heard she was also the target of alleged bullying by two of her bosses, causing her to suffer depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

She launched the case against the trust for detriment she said she suffered as a result of her whistleblowing in 2013.

After reaching the agreement this week the trust said: “To be absolutely clear, the trust was fully prepared to contest the appeal. Notwithstanding the agreement that Dr Dare acted in good faith in making her disclosures, the trust does not and has never admitted that Dr Dare experienced any detriment as a result of the disclosure that she made.”

It added: “The trust believes the agreement represents a fair outcome for all the parties involved.

“The trust has not conceded the appeal by Dr Dare and no compensation has been paid to her. Both parties to the appeal will bear their own costs in the case.”

The organisation is the largest mental health trust in the country and is responsible for high security hospital Broadmoor as well as low secure units and local services.

The trust’s then chief executive Steve Shrubb apologised to Dr Dare at the tribunal for personal comments he had made during a meeting with the claimant while she and her union representative were out of the room – comments she covertly recorded. Mr Shrubb retired this month.

Rachael Moench, the trust’s HR director, was also in the recorded meeting, and told the tribunal she “regrett[ed]” making comments about Dr Dare and her representative. A spokeswoman for the trust Ms Moench handed her notice in over the summer and would be leaving in December.

A new chair was appointed to the trust in May. The previous chair left halfway through his second term last December.