Unfair Dismissal

We successfully challenged the dismissal of a community psychiatric nurse employed by West London NHS Mental Health Trust.  The case largely concerned whether the Trust had failed to take into account adequately or at all mitigating features so that a result other than dismissal might have followed.

The employee was subject to a disciplinary investigation for misconduct relating to a series of failures including overdue patient risk assessments and care plans.  The employee suffered from a number of health problems including diabetes. The investigation and disciplinary process took over a year to complete.  In the interim the employee was redeployed to work as a mental health nurse in Day Services, caring for the elderly, a role with no front line responsibility and which was subject to greater supervision.

At the end of the disciplinary process, the employee was dismissed with immediate effect on the basis that, “it was impossible that there could be any further trust between the Trust and the employee in caring for vulnerable patients in any setting”.

During the hearing of the employee’s claim for unfair dismissal, the Trust confirmed that in reaching its decision to dismiss no account whatsoever had been taken of the fact that the employee had been performing the role of mental health nurse looking after the elderly in Day Services for a period of approximately 13 months.  No consideration at all had been given to allowing the employee to remain in the Day Services role.  The employee had been performing the role in Day Services well and there had been no issues with her performance.

The Tribunal held that the appeal panel had been misled by the dismissing officer and that they should have been told that the dismissal panel did not consider or investigate the quality of the employee’s work for the 13 months between the commencement of the investigation and the decision to dismiss.  They found that had the matter been properly considered the employee would have had a chance of being demoted to a permanent mental health nurse status.  These failings rendered the dismissal unfair.

A financial settlement was secured following the hearing.