NHS Hospital whistle blower awarded £1.2m compensation after sack for cancer warning
An NHS manager unfairly dismissed “as a whistle blower” over plans to relocate cancer services out of his county has been awarded £1.2m in compensation.
John Watkinson, the chief executive of the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust (RCHT) from January 2007 until April 2009, claimed he was fired because he was about to blow the whistle on legal advice suggesting the transfer of services to neighbouring Devon may have been unlawful without a full public inquiry.
A tribunal earlier this year ruled the 55-year-old had been unfairly ousted from his £148,000 a year post and should receive £67,250 after the trust failed to follow proper procedures in his dismissal.
On Friday it ruled Mr Watkinson should also receive £1.2 million for the whistle-blowing part of this claim. That award is now subject to an appeal by both the RCHT and Strategic Health Authority (SHA).
A 37-page judgement by the Exeter employment tribunal levels severe criticism at the RCHT and the SHA, saying witnesses for the trust appeared to be “unable or unwilling to give straightforward answers to simple questions”.
The panel criticised the fact that key witnesses from the SHA including chief executive Sir Ian Carruthers and Chairman Michael Pitt were not called to give live evidence.
Mr Watkinson, from Truro, described the latest ruling as “bittersweet”, adding:”Although the award is substantial it cannot replace the 35 year long NHS career which I expected to last another 12 years to my retirement.
“It seems I can hold out little or no hope of a senior role in the service to which I have dedicated my professional life.”
He began his career as a hospital porter in 1974 and said the judgement had “restored my good name and reputation”.
The RCHT refused to comment because of the whistle-blowing appeal although it accepted it had unfairly dismissed its former chief.
Tags: Cancer, cancer survival, National Health Service, NHS, preventable crisis, red tape, whistleblower