A top surgeon unfairly sacked from the Horton General Hospital on sexual harassment charges has received compensation of less than £100,000.
The consultant, whose departure resulted in the permanent removal of emergency surgery to Oxford, has spent thousands more than that on legal fees and has lost two years’ salary fighting for his reputation.
He failed to win his job back because the trust moved his work to Oxford and gave his job to a locum recruited to fill his position. Judge Gumbiti- Zimuto accepted there was no longer a job for him to return to.
An employment tribunal found specialist Abdul al Zein’s claims for unfair and wrongful dismissal in December 2012 were ‘well founded’.
He was surgical tutor on the core surgical training programme at the Horton of which the Oxford Deanery said: “This is a well-organised teaching programme run by the claimant who has made strenuous efforts to improve local standards... He has improved the teaching and organisation of the programme’.”
And he was described by Prof Ted Baker, Oxford University Hospitals Trust’s medical director as ‘a highly respected surgeon who is a leader in postgraduate education’.
The tribunal heard that the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHT) internal disciplinary investigation prior to his sacking had not sought information that might have been in the consultant’s favour, and had put the onus on him to disprove allegations against him. Neither of the female staff members who made the allegations appeared at the tribunal.
Shortly after his dismissal, another surgeon was removed to ‘other duties’ and a third was allowed to retire from the rota.
With the decimation of Banbury cover, the OUHT removed emergency surgery to Oxford in a surprise reorganisation in January 2013. Since then numerous complaints have been made about delays and difficulty in transfer and treatment.
The tribunal was told surgery was now performed ‘immediately on admission’ at the JR which previously would have occurred ‘later at the Horton’.
Keith Strangwood, chair of the Keep the Horton General, spent 19 hours at the JR last month waiting for an operation on a suspected stangulated hernia. He said: “The emergency surgery service at the Horton had a good outcome record. My experience of emergency surgery provision at the JR proved it does not resemble ‘surgery undertaken immediately on admission’.”
Mark Power, spokesman for OUHT said: “The trust was disappointed with the outcome of the employment tribunal. The trust stands by the actions taken which led to the dismissal of the doctor concerned.
“The trust obviously appealed against the judgement and has now exhausted the appeals process. We were disappointed not to have been successful. A financial award has been made to the claimant in full and final settlement and he has not been reinstated.”