An NHS whistleblower who trained as a registrar in Sheffield has been awarded £1.22 million in damages by a hospital trust after he was unfairly sacked after exposing concerns about patient safety.
Cardiologist Raj Mattu claimed he had been ‘vilified and bullied’ and subjected to a 12-year ‘witch hunt’ after making the claims at Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry in 2001.
He was sacked in 2010, but Birmingham Employment Tribunal ruled that he had been unfairly dismissed.
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust said it had agreed to pay Dr Mattu £1.22 million.
Dr Mattu said: “The overriding feeling I and my wife have is relief that there is finally a full stop. For the first time in 15 years I can look forward and plan things for the future.”
Dr Mattu publicly exposed overcrowding and fears for patient safety at the hospital in 2001.
A year later the £70,000-a-year doctor was suspended by the Trust on full pay after being accused of bullying. He was dismissed in 2010.
The tribunal found that Dr Mattu was a whistleblower and had been ‘subjected to detriments’ because of this, but they had been presented ‘out of time’ and therefore could not be considered as part of the case.
But it found the Trust was at fault by holding a disciplinary hearing against Dr Mattu while he was in hospital and could not attend.
The Trust said: “While £1.22 million is a large amount, it is a significant reduction from the original claim and has finally resolved this matter.
“We accept that it has been difficult for all involved and are relieved that this case has now been brought to an end.”
Dr Mattu trained as a registrar at hospitals in Sheffield and London after graduating in medicine, and worked at nine NHS hospitals before moving to Coventry’s then Walsgrave Hospital.
In a witness statement submitted to the tribunal, he accused his employer of endangering lives by allowing overcrowding on its wards.
Describing his treatment by the Trust as a ‘tragedy’, the cardiologist said: “My case turns on many events, which start in 1998 with my raising serious concerns about patient safety at the Trust.
“These concerns progress and culminate in my publicly blowing the whistle regarding lies told by the Trust in an attempt to cover up the avoidable deaths of patients.”
But he claimed his disclosures ‘fell on deaf ears and when I made them public resulted in a witch-hunt’ to oust.