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Dispute with doctor costs Airedale Hospital £430,000
2:48pm Thursday 12th September 2013 in News
The trust that runs Airedale Hospital has revealed that a three-year dispute with one of its doctors has so far cost the taxpayer more than £430,000.
Legal fees and the cost of replacement staff while the dispute continues has led to the bill – which is likely to increase further as the dispute continues.
Elizabeth McMillan started working at the hospital in 2008 in the role of consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.
In June 2010, she was involved in what was described as “a serious untoward incident” when a patient suffered serious and uncontrolled bleeding following a successful caesarean delivery.
It required emergency surgery to remove the patient’s spleen. The patient has since recovered.
When the incident was investigated, staff were concerned that Miss McMillan seemed to give a different view of events to investigators than she did to the patient and her family.
The Airedale NHS Foundation Trust decided she had not provided “a full and honest account” of the incident and in September of that year she was referred to a disciplinary panel and relieved of her duties from November 2010. The panel decided to sanction Miss McMillan with a written warning in November 2011.
She appealed this decision, but the trust’s claims were upheld. However, she soon discovered her bosses planned to use the appeal to increase the sanction against her, with possible dismissal, and she started legal action to prevent this.
A hearing was held over several days in December 2012 and February this year, and in June Judge Hegarty QC returned his verdict – ruling that the trust had no power to increase Miss McMillan’s punishment through an appeal process.
Despite already having paid hefty legal bills, the trust has decided to appeal this latest judgement.
Figures released through a Freedom of Information request show that so far the ongoing legal action has cost the trust £110,251. And it has had to pay a further £319,799 for replacement staff to cover Miss McMillan’s role since November 2010.
The High Court hearing was told that Miss McMillan had an “unblemished” record until the incident.
A spokesman for the Airedale Hospital Trust said the trust had sought permission to appeal the High Court judgment but it would be “inappropriate” to comment further whilst legal proceedings are ongoing.