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Doctor challenges dismissal for prayer and ‘whistleblowing’

03 April 2012

by Madeleine Davies



A HOSPITAL doctor claimed that he was dismissed for being a “whistle­blower”, and for emailing a prayer to colleagues, a tribunal in Birmingham heard last week.

Dr David Drew (above), a paediatri­cian, who was dismissed from Walsall Manor Hospital in December 2010, said that he had been made to feel like a “religious maniac” after being asked not to use religious references in his profes­sional communications. He is claim­ing unfair dismissal.

But the then chief executive of the hospital, Sue James, told the tribunal on Thursday of last week that Dr Drew’s religious references were “highly marginal” in the investiga­tion that preceded his dismissal, and claimed that he had produced a “toxic environment” at the hospital.

In 2008, Dr Drew raised concerns about practices on the paediatric ward at the hospital, and reported that children had been sexually as­saulted. He also expressed concerns about a consultant who allowed a child to go home despite the presence of suspicious injuries. The child was killed a week later by his stepfather.

An investigation into Dr Drew’s conduct led to an independent re­view, which made a series of recommendations, including one that he “refrain from using religious ref­erences in his professional communications, verbal or written”.

He had previously emailed a prayer by St Ignatius Loyola to colleagues. He prefaced it, he said, with the words: “I find this a personal inspiration in my frail imperfect efforts to serve my patients, their families and our department.” He also sent a text to a colleague to wish him a “peaceful Christmas”.

“While [he] may regard such messages as benign [the colleague] per­ceived them as aggressive and un­welcome intrusions into his private time,” the hospital’s report said.

The tribunal heard that Dr Drew refused to accept the recommend­ations of the independent review. He said that he had asked for clarifica­tion about the religious references.

“If the trust wanted me to behave in a different way, they should give me some explanation,” Dr Drew told the tribunal. “The allegation that I have forced my religion on to other people, that I am some kind of religious maniac, was made worse by the fact that they told me there was no need for me to understand what this is all about.”

Mrs James said that her relation­ship with Dr Drew was “taking up one day of my personal time a week”.

The hospital said that it accepted that Dr Drew was an excellent doctor, but cited a breakdown in trust as the cause of his dismisal. It accepted that his religious references had not caused offence.

The hearing continues.

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