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Employment & Discrimination -
Mark Sutton QC, Louise Chudleigh
The Claimant, Dr Jain, was employed by the Defendant NHS Foundation Trust as a Consultant Radiologist. The Trust was investigating concerns raised about the Claimant’s clinical practice and working relationships in the Trust’s breast screening service.
The Claimant claimed that the manner in which the Trust investigated these complaints was in breach of the terms and conditions of his contract employment, and in particular the provisions of the ‘Maintaining High Professional Standards’ [MHPS] framework, which he contended were contractually incorporated and applicable in the material circumstances.
The Court made the following key findings:
Given the Defendant’s status as a Foundation Trust, and in circumstances where the local negotiating committee had tabled but not agreed the adoption of a local policy reflecting the provisions of MHPS, the framework was not expressly incorporated into the Claimant’s contract of employment. Neither was it impliedly incorporated by reason of custom and practice.
Given the Defendant’s statement that it would follow MHPS as guidance, the framework was nevertheless relevant to the Court’s determination of whether the Defendant had acted in accordance with the trust and confidence term.
There was no breach of the Claimant’s employment contract arising out of the Defendant’s decision to commence an investigation into a breakdown in working relationships outside MHPS, at a point in time when an investigation following Part IV of the MHPS framework was suspended. Although the matters under investigation were connected, the focus of each investigation was different.
The use of mediation and subsequent disclosure of the mediation materials did not amount to a breach of the employment contract. The use of such documents was limited to a defined purpose and the objective of the mediation could only be achieved if the documents were shared with a small group of people within the Trust.
The Trust imposed restrictions (not exclusion) on the Claimant, which did not constitute a breach of contract because the decision to restrict was justified on grounds of patient safety.
The Trust did not fail to consider alternative re-skilling plans as it sought appropriate advice from NCAS and attempted to implement an alternative approach. However, due to matters outside its control, this was not feasible.
Ultimately, the Court dismissed the claim finding that the Trust had not breached any of the express or implied terms of the Claimant’s employment.
Mark Sutton QC and Louise Chudleigh were instructed by Law by Design Limited for the Defendant.
Nicola Newbegin of Old Square Chambers (led by Jeremy Hyam QC of One Crown Office Row) was instructed by Radcliffes LeBrasseur LLP for the Claimant.