Rose Gibb the MRSA paperpusher judgement ends era of pay-offs

NHS managers could increasingly turn to employment tribunals with the rights and wrongs of their dismissals debated in public after Rose Gibb lost her claim for breach of contract, her union leader has warned.

Ms Gibb left her position as chief executive of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells trust in October 2007 after agreeing severance terms.

But this week the High Court turned down her bid to enforce this contract, ruling the trust had shown “irrational generosity” in agreeing to pay her £175,000 above the £75,000 she was contractually entitled to in lieu of notice.

Mr Justice Treacy accepted that Ms Gibb had received assurances of the payment’s approval further up the NHS hierarchy. However, even this was not sufficient for her to be awarded any of the outstanding £175,000.

Ms Gibb left the trust days before the Healthcare Commission published a critical report on two C difficile outbreaks which contributed to at least 90 deaths.

Jon Restell, chief executive of Managers in Partnership, Ms Gibb’s union, said the outcome would make it more rigorous in checking compensation agreements were properly authorised.

“If people have been given reassurances this case is a wake-up call to double check,” he said.

He questioned whether it served MiP members’ best interests to enter discussions on severance payments, or whether it would be better to go through a disciplinary process and potentially launch unfair dismissal claims at an employment tribunal.

“Maybe we will see a lot more litigation. That could lead to interesting arguments around whether people are culpable. In the past we would have been sitting down to discuss a compensation agreement. That may not happen in the future.”

Employment tribunals could consider whether a chief executive was responsible for problems, or whether wider, systemic issues such as targets were involved, he said. And he warned that chief executive jobs could look increasingly unattractive.

One foundation trust chief executive in the North of England said the case, combined with the recent turnover of chiefs, added to the unattractiveness of the positions.

“We have got a double whammy,” he said. “There is a great propensity to fire the chief executive and there has been a tightening up on pay-offs.”

County Durham and Darlington foundation trust chief executive Stephen Eames said: “The verdict reinforces the accountability of senior public servants like ourselves.”

The judge awarded costs against Ms Gibb and refused her leave to appeal.

MiP – which gave her legal advice – said options being considered included asking the Court of Appeal directly for permission to appeal and asking an employment tribunal to hear the case, even though it is technically out of time.

In a statement issued by the union, Ms Gibb said: “The evidence showed that senior NHS people made decisions and acted in ways that they themselves agree were both unjust and unfair to me. They said they would not have defended a claim of unfair dismissal. The judge’s ruling has been made over a contentious and complex point of law. This matter has been difficult for all parties and there can be no winners.”


Health Direct is delighted that Rose Gibb has lost her appeal for more blood money after presiding over the deaths of 90 patients in her dirty hospital.

What were the “NHS hierarchy” thinking of when they tried to pay off Mrs Gibb with another £175,000?

Perhaps they will now be similary generous to the relatives of those who died an early death as a result?

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