Management failure cost hospital trust huge damages award

Doctor’s record £4.5m payout – enough for 210 nurses’ salaries. Settlement ‘will damage jobs and patient care’. The tribunal was outraged by what happened and obviously wanted to send a strong message about bullying to all NHS hospital managers

A record £4.5million tribunal payout could lead to job losses and hit frontline services, health unions said yesterday. The shock award to a consultant physician hounded out of her job after having a baby dwarfs all previous damages awards.

The astonishing payout of £4,452,206.60 to Dr Eva Michalak was revealed in a judgment published yesterday. It is the largest amount ever awarded by an employment tribunal in the UK and would fund the salaries of 210 nurses for a year.

Last night, there were concerns that the unprecedented ruling will deepen the financial crisis at the trust where the senior doctor worked. Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust has already been ordered to cut costs by £31million.

Unison warned the tribunal ruling in Leeds would affect patients. A union spokesman said: ‘They are already one of the worst in the country in terms of their financial crisis and this will put even more pressure on.’ Jim Bell, Yorkshire and Humberside regional manager, said: ‘This is going to seriously destabilise the trust finances.’

The payout to Dr Michalak, 53, will be studied by ministers, who are considering capping tribunal awards because there is currently no limit in sex or race discrimination cases.

Bosses invented a catalogue of false accusations against her during a five-year campaign of harassment when she had her first child aged 45. Dr Michalak was targeted by colleagues and senior staff at Pontefract General Infirmary in 2003 after she went on maternity leave.

By the time she was dismissed from her £90,000-a-year post in 2008, she was ‘profoundly traumatised’. ‘It has been a living hell,’ said Dr Michalak. ‘I suffered years of psychological abuse. They hounded me out because I had a baby. ‘They destroyed my life, my health and my career. Their dishonesty was staggering. ‘It was frightening and sinister how these people could abuse their positions and harass and bully me. ‘I was so stressed I was crying on my way to work. I have been profoundly traumatised by fellow doctors.’

She is unable to carry out everyday tasks, is reluctant to leave the house and will never be able to return to the profession she cherished. Her husband, Dr Julian DeHavilland, 45, had to leave his job as a scientific researcher to look after his wife at their home in Leeds.

Polish-born Dr Michalak, whose son is now eight, successfully sued the trust for sex and race discrimination, and unfair dismissal last year. The biggest previous tribunal payout was £729,347 in a disability discrimination case. For sex bias, the top award was £442,266, and the most successful race discrimination claimant won £374,922.

Last night, Unison also called on trust bosses to ‘consider their positions’. Mr Bell said: ‘The people who dealt with this are the ones who should be losing their jobs. ‘Senior members of staff should be considering their position in the light of this payout. The comments in the tribunal ruling are damning.’

Just £7,180 of the payout was for unfair dismissal. Dr Michalak was awarded £1.15million for loss of earnings and £666,260 for loss of pension. Other amounts were added for psychiatric injury, medical treatment and injury to her feelings while the tribunal also exercised its discretion to increase the payout. It did so by 15 per cent or £311,311, plus interest, and then raised the total by £2.1million to cover the tax she will have to pay.

In its damning ruling, the employment tribunal said: ‘We are positively outraged at the way this employer behaved. ‘The claimant was subjected to a campaign, suspended, had her suspension unnecessarily prolonged and was then dismissed for a reason that related to her pregnancy. ‘She has lost her role and status. She is never going to return to work as a doctor, a profession she cherished.’ The trust had ‘abused’ its powers over Dr Michalak’s suspension which amounted to ‘oppressive arbitrary or unconstitutional action’.

Dr Michalak, the first consultant physician at the hospital to take maternity leave, returned to work to discover the campaign to oust her had intensified.

At secret meetings, it was agreed by head of department Dr Colin White and another senior staff member, that they would appear to back her while trying to get rid of her. Junior doctors falsely claimed she had bullied them. An independent inquiry ruled the allegations were impossible to prove and the bullying complaint was withdrawn. But Dr Michalak stayed suspended until 2008 as further ‘evidence’ was gathered before her dismissal.

Those involved in the abuse no longer work at the trust or have been demoted.

Last night, Dr DeHavilland said: ‘This payout is not a win. All she ever wanted was to work. No one would trade their mental health for any amount of money.’

Trust chief executive Julia Squire apologised to Dr Michalak and added ‘patient care will be paramount’.


Why won’t they save Adam? Parents furious after NHS Trust refuses to fund potentially life-saving cancer treatment

An eight-year-old boy with an aggressive form of cancer has fallen victim to a ‘postcode lottery,’ after his health authority refused to fund his place on a trial that could save his life.

Adam Bird has undergone two-and-a-half years of intensive treatment since he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, which affects the nerve tissue. Doctors say immunotherapy – which is offered in Germany – could slow down the condition and even provide a potential cure.

His consultant at the Royal Marsden applied for funding in June but the request was turned down by Adam’s local NHS trust. Yet his parents had met families from Dorset, Cornwall, Devon and Wales who all had children receiving NHS funding for the treatment.

His father Nick said today: ‘It is totally unacceptable for Adam to be treated differently from children from other parts of the UK – he should not be discriminated against simply because of where he lives.

‘This isn’t a life prolonging treatment for Adam. This is potentially a cure – the difference between him making 90 or his ninth birthday.’

Refusing to be beaten, his parents set up the charity Adam’s Appeal, which has funded his ongoing treatment. He now spends two-and-a-half weeks in Germany getting treatment and the same amount of time at home.

Mr Bird, 40, and his wife Alison, 41, from Epsom in Surrey have two other children who are 10 and 12 who stay with other family members when they take Adam abroad. The whole family are now going to Germany this week so they can be with Adam while he has treatment over Christmas.

However, they said there were many other children who would not be able to raise the £68,000 needed to pay for the whole trial.

‘Life is simply hard enough as it is so when things out of your control make it harder still you just resent it,’ said Mr Bird. ‘However, I am doing it for other families who may be in the same situation as ourselves, who cannot raise the money – it is simply not right.’

He added that he still strongly disagreed by the decision made by the Surrey Primary Care Trust to refuse to pay for Adam’s treatment. ‘We do question the unfairness of Adam being treated differently from other children throughout the country – how can that possibly be justified?’ he asked.

Mr Bird father said the Department of Health had decreed during an appeal for another boy with neuroblastoma that funding would be made available for overseas trials of immunotherapy if children did not qualify in Britain. However, some PCTs were not honouring this.

The charity, Neuroblastoma Alliance UK, has helped the family throughout Adam’s illness. ‘It seems very unfair that children do not receive the same treatment from the NHS across the UK,’ said the charity’s chief executive, Alison Moy. ‘There really is a postcode lottery in terms of receiving this potentially life-saving treatment, which is something that the Government urgently needs to address.’

Linda Honey, head of pharmaceutical commissioning at NHS Surrey, acknowledged that requests for the specialist treatment would only be considered under an individual funding request policy and needed to demonstrate “exceptional” clinical circumstances to be put forward.

She said the decisions made by other primary care trusts to fund the treatment were ‘local decisions which take into account individual circumstances.’ ‘I understand that Adam is currently receiving monoclonal antibody treatment and we wish him well,’ she said.

‘Clearly, Adam’s family are disappointed with our decision to not fund his treatment abroad – our decision takes into account the clinical evidence available, individual circumstance and an assessment of the benefits to the patient.

‘Monoclonal antibody treatment is only available in clinical trial in the UK – unfortunately, where patients fall outside the eligibility criteria for entry into this trial this has left the patients and their families in very difficult situations.’


Revealed: The 74 illegal immigrants who should have been sent home from Britain years ago and are costing the taxpayer millions

British taxpayers have spent millions of pounds housing 74 illegal immigrants who should have been deported years ago, it emerged this week.

Immigration Minister Damian Green revealed that each immigrant has been held for a minimum of two years. Nineteen have been on the deportation list for more than ten years, while one has been in Britain for 20 years beyond his legal right to remain.

It is unclear whether the 74 have been housed in detention centres or in prisons, meaning the cost of keeping them in Britain ranges from £6million to an eye-watering £22.5million.

Forty cannot be removed because they refuse to tell immigration officials which country they are originally from or because they do not have passports.

A spokesman for watchdog the Taxpayers’ Alliance today called the figures ‘staggering’. Jonathan Isaby said: ‘Taxpayers will be shocked to learn that the Government is spending tens of millions of pounds of their money each year simply to keep people in removal centres who should have been deported years ago.

‘Once a decision to deport has been made, the case should be processed quickly – within days or weeks, certainly not months and years. The system is clearly failing and ministers should urgently review its operation.’

The statistics, unveiled by Mr Green in Parliament earlier this week, also reveal:

* It costs £110 a day to house someone in a detention removal centre

* Almost one in three of the 74 is using human rights legislation while they fight in the courts to remain in the country

* Thirteen have been here five years longer than they should

* Ten should have left the country eight years ago

* Nineteen have been here more than a decade. Of these, one has been detained for 20 years and another two for 17 years.

Conservative MP Priti Patel today called for the Government to urgently address the situation.

She told the Daily Express: ‘The British public will be deeply concerned to see so many foreigners staying in Britain for these incredible lengths of time at huge cost to the taxpayer when they should be deported. ‘Human rights laws need urgent reform.’

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: ‘Detention is a necessary part of the process. We always seek to remove as quickly as possible but if detainees give false or incomplete information it delays their return and extends their detention.’


Betrayed by schools, the bright British seven-year-olds who fail to shine at 11

The devastating extent to which primary schools are failing bright pupils was revealed yesterday. Up to 51,000 11-year-olds who achieved top grades at age seven have effectively gone backwards after being left to coast in maths and English. Four in ten youngsters who were above average in the three Rs at seven are failing to fulfil their early promise, official league tables show.

Around half of primary schools – more than 7,500 – have failed to get each of their brightest pupils up to the highest grades in Key Stage Two tests at 11.

Among these schools, more than 800 could not get all their young high achievers even up to the national average.

This left around 1,300 pupils at a disadvantage when they started secondary school in September. Despite their flying start, they were still struggling to grasp the point of a story, write sentences using commas or add, subtract, multiply and divide in their heads.

The Department for Education has identified a hard core of 15 schools where more than 20 per cent of pupils who were high attainers at seven sank to the ranks of the lowest achievers at 11.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the Government was ‘shining a light’ on these schools.

Critics claim the figures are a damning indictment of a league table culture which has encouraged schools to concentrate on youngsters of low to middle ability at the expense of the brightest.

Schools are judged on how well they do in getting pupils to level four, the expected standard, in the basics and many teachers focus their efforts on borderline pupils to improve their league table positions.

The Department for Education yesterday published school-by-school data for around 15,000 state primaries in England, based on national curriculum test results in English and maths.

The tables reveal for the first time how low, middle and high achieving pupils at seven go on to perform in the Key Stage Two tests four years later. The statistics show that more than 2,000 primary schools are serving their middle achievers better than their brightest pupils in English lessons.

There is at least a 20 percentage point gap in the levels of progress made by middle versus high achievers in the subject in 2,160 schools.

This emphasis has also contributed to 11 per cent of children – around 32,000 – who were ‘middle’ achievers at seven rising to join the ranks of the highest achievers at the age of 11.

The figures show that 74 per cent of pupils achieved level four in both English and maths this year, up one percentage point in 12 months.

The proportion of bright boys and girls exceeding the standard expected – level five – fell by four percentage points to 29 per cent in English and increased by one percentage point in maths to 35 per cent.

Professor Alan Smithers of Buckingham University said children in the top ability range are ‘perhaps too often left to their own devices’. He said: ‘The way schools are judged has a massive effect on their behaviour. If they are asked to account for how many children are getting to level four, that’s where their effort is going to go. ‘We don’t do enough for the really able in our education system.’

Nearly one in ten state primary schools face possible closure or takeover after failing to hit Coalition targets in the three Rs. Nationally, 1,310 are falling short of Government benchmarks in English and maths.

Ministers have already identified the 200 worst primaries which will be pulled out of local authority control and turned into academies under new leadership teams as early as next September. Hundreds more will now be ordered to improve or face similar intervention.

The head of one of the country’s best primary schools has attacked the Coalition’s education reforms. Paul Fisher, of Oakridge Primary School in Stafford, claimed yesterday that the changes would focus on facts instead of skills, and said: ‘Do we want a society that’s great at pub quizzes or one that’s great at thinking and problem solving?’

Nearly all the 34 children at his school taking English and maths tests exceeded the standard expected of their age to gain the higher level five.


Climategate Bombshell: Did U.S. Gov’t Help Hide Climate Data?

Are your tax dollars helping hide global warming data from the public? Internal emails leaked as part of “Climategate 2.0” indicate the answer may be “Yes.”

The original Climategate emails — correspondence stolen from servers at a research facility in the U.K. and released on the Internet in late 2009 — shook up the field of climate research. Now a new batch posted in late November to a Russian server shows that scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit refused to share their U.S. government-funded data with anyone they thought would disagree with them.

Making that case in 2009, the then-head of the Research Unit, Dr. Phil Jones, told colleagues repeatedly that the U.S. Department of Energy was funding his data collection — and that officials there agreed that he should not have to release the data.

“Work on the land station data has been funded by the U.S. Dept of Energy, and I have their agreement that the data needn’t be passed on. I got this [agreement] in 2007,” Jones wrote in a May 13, 2009, email to British officials, before listing reasons he did not want them to release data.

Two months later, Jones reiterated that sentiment to colleagues, saying that the data “has to be well hidden. I’ve discussed this with the main funder (U.S. Dept of Energy) in the past and they are happy about not releasing the original station data.”

A third email from Jones written in 2007 echoes the idea: “They are happy with me not passing on the station data,” he wrote.

The emails have outraged climate-change skeptics who say they can’t trust climate studies unless they see the raw data — and how it has been adjusted. “In every endeavor of science, making your work replicable by others is a basic tenet of proof,” Anthony Watts, a meteorologist and climate change blogger, told “If other scientists cannot replicate your work, it brings your work into question.”

Is the Department of Energy to blame? The Climategate emails reveal correspondence only between Jones and his colleagues — not between him and the DoE.

“What’s missing,” Watts said, “is a … directive from DoE that they should withhold station data gathered under their grant. The email may be there, but … still under lock and key.”

Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, wants that key. He recently filed Freedom of Information acts with the DoE, requesting the emails they exchanged with Jones. “So far no administration department has bothered to respond, indicating they … believe the time bought with stonewalling might just get them off the hook for disclosure,” Horner told “Not with us, it won’t,” he said.

The Department of Energy has until December 29 before it must legally respond to Horner’s request. When contacted by, DoE spokesman Damien LaVera declined to comment.

However, climate change researcher and blogger Steve McIntyre forwarded an email exchange from 2005 in which climate scientist Warwick Hughes asked an official at a DOE lab if he could get the data that the government paid Jones to collect.

“I am asking you to provide me with the following data … DoE has been funding [the data] since the 1980s,” Hughes noted in his request.

But Tom Boden, of the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, told Hughes at the time that the DOE itself did not have the data, and that “you will need to contact Phil [Jones] directly. I spoke today with the DOE program manager who indicated Phil was not obligated under the conditions of past or present DOE proposal awards to provide these items.”

McIntyre said he himself later had a similar exchange with the DOE, after which “I suggested that they amend this as a condition of further financing.” “I was surprised that the new emails show them actively taking the opposite approach,” he added.

Asked about the connection with the Department of Energy, Simon Dunford, a spokesman for Jones’ Climatic Research Unit, told that Jones has changed his tune since the emails were made public.

“Prof Jones has already accepted he should have been more open, and has since made all the station data referred to in these emails publicly available,” Dunford told

Watts said that while much of the data itself is now available, the methods of adjusting it — statistical modification meant to filter anomalies, “normalize” the data, and potentially highlight certain trends — remain a secret.

“Much of climate science, in terms of the computer processing that goes on, remains a black box to the outside world. We see the data go in, and we see the data that come out as a finished product — but we don’t know how they adjust it in between.”

Watts said he would like to be given the adjustment formulas to make his own determination. “The fact that they are trying to keep people from replicating their studies — that’s the issue,” Watts noted. “Replication is the most important tenet of science.”


De mortuis nil nisi bonum?

I am afraid I am going to disregard that bit of Roman wisdom. The recently deceased Christopher Hitchens has been rather eulogized in the press and elsewhere so I think the other side needs to be put.

His virulent outpouring of hate towards Christians deprives him of any right to respect in my view. If I were a Christian, I think I would see the hand of the Lord in moving him prematurely to his final destination.

Since I am an atheist, however, I note that his death from esophageal cancer was almost certainly the result of his lifelong heavy drinking and smoking. And if he had had the comfort of religion he might not have needed such props to his mood.

His brother Peter, who is very close to him in age and appearance, appears to have no particular health problems but Peter is a committed communicant of the Church of England

Peter also abandoned Leftism much sooner and more completely than Christopher. Chistopher moved towards conservatism on many issues in his later years but that inner fountain of Leftist hate never left him and he vented it on Christians. In my view atheism makes religion a matter of no concern but if you are a Leftist atheist, it seems to be grabbed as an opportunity for hate.

Despite their many differences, Peter has written a generous tribute to his brother here. I think it shows that Peter lacks the hate that drove his brother — JR.


About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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