Doctor granted injunction allowing him to return to work

A cardiologist has been granted an interim injunction allowing him to return to work after a court decided that his employer’s actions in excluding him had been irrational.

Dr Al-Obaidi had been a cardiologist at a Frimley Health NHS Trust hospital.

In January 2018, the trust's medical director informed him that he was being excluded from work and his conduct was under investigation.

Allegations had been made about him discouraging colleagues from doing serious incident reports, failing to promote openness at mortality and morbidity meetings, fostering an us/them attitude regarding another hospital, engaging in intimidating behaviour with colleagues, and providing a deliberately misleading account of patient management by another doctor.

The exclusion meant that Dr Al-Obaidi could not enter the hospital or see patients because of concerns that he would interfere with witnesses during the investigation.

The investigator's report dismissed some allegations and commented on the others. The trust refused to lift the restrictions until the disciplinary process was complete.

However, it lifted the full exclusion and allowed Dr Al-Obaidi to partially return to work in a different hospital, two days a week and under supervision.

Dr Al-Obaidi applied for an interim injunction lifting the exclusion and allowing him to return to work until the investigation is completed.

The High Court granted the injunction after hearing evidence that the points at issue did not go to patient safety, but to aspects of Dr Al-Obaidi 's personality, which could be addressed by mentoring or counselling. It found that most colleagues held him in high regard.

The judge said the trust's position was characterised by a failure to properly address the issues and make rational decisions. That had started with the exclusion, which was a “nuclear weapon” for the trust, only to be used in the most serious and extreme cases.

The trust had then allowed Dr Al-Obaidi to partially return to work before the investigator's report was concluded, which showed that exclusion had never been properly justified.

Exclusion had been an unnecessarily extreme option, even based on the original allegations. After the report, when there was misconduct shown, and it was almost inevitable that Dr Al-Obaidi would return to his old position, the trust should have carefully considered whether the restrictions remained necessary.

The trust's position was irrational and so the injunction was granted.

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Case details
QBD (Martin Spencer J) 05/09/2018

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