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States reject findings of their own board over fired surgeon

Friday 08 July 2016

States reject findings of their own board over fired surgeon

The row over surgeon Amar Alwitry, who was sacked before even starting his new job at Jersey's General Hospital, has escalated even further.

Last week a States of Jersey Complaints Board Report accused the States of firing Mr Alwitry unlawfully.

Their stinging report concluded that the sacking had been “contrary to law, unjust and based on irrelevant considerations.”

But the States Employment Board today issued a statement saying it flatly rejected the findings of the States Complaints Board – saying they do not intend to pay four years’ wages to Mr Alwitry by way of compensation.

Married father-of-four Mr Alwitry has vowed to carry on the fight to clear his name and seek compensation as he is now out of work following the row, which happened in 2012. Mr Alwitry, an ophthalmology surgeon, was buoyed by last week’s report which appeared to vindicate his actions.

But the States Employment Board today stated in their own report that it “rejects the Complaints Board’s report and recommendations.”

It added: “The SEB further rejects the suggestion that the former Solicitor General Advocate Howard Sharp QC – a Crown Appointment – is not constitutionally independent.

“The Complaints Board is critical of Advocate Sharp QC’s report yet implicitly agrees with many of his findings, including that Mr Alwitry should have been given an opportunity to respond to the criticisms made of him prior to termination of the contract.

“Advocate Sharp’s report is the only objective report based on in-depth interviews with ten people, including Mr Alwitry. The Complaints Board only heard from one witness and did not have the opportunity to question Mr Alwitry because he did not attend on the day, but was represented by his advocate.

“Mr Alwitry did have the opportunity to correct any misunderstanding and misconception before the former Solicitor General’s report was finalised. Any and all observations were considered prior to the completion of his report.

“The Solicitor General’s report concludes that while procedural aspects of the case were unsatisfactory, even if they had been correct, the outcome would have been the same, because the relationship between Mr Alwitry and hospital clinical leaders and management was dysfunctional and had broken down beyond repair.

“Almost one year before the hearing, the Complaints Board confirmed its terms of reference would consider that: “The decision the panel will be considering involves the process resulting in the revocation of Dr Alwitry’s contract. It will not be looking at the grounds on which SEB withdrew the contract nor the merits of those grounds. They will also not be looking at matters relating to patient safety or whistleblowing protection.”

“Unfortunately, at the hearing, without any prior notice, the Complaints Board departed from these terms of reference. It investigated the application process, the grounds and the merits of the decision to terminate the contract of employment and the subject of patient safety.

“Therefore, the Board did not have all relevant material before it at the hearing given that it had departed from its terms of reference provided to the parties. It drew conclusions based on incomplete evidence and failed to deal with the first-hand evidence provided to the former Solicitor General.

“In the light of the former Solicitor General’s report the SEB rejects the recommendation that it is reasonable to pay the equivalent of nearly four years’ salary from public funds to Mr Alwitry.”

Health and Social Services Minister Andrew Green says he recognises mistakes were made in the row which first led to Mr Alwitry’s sacking, but has backed the SEB report.

Senator Green said: “I acknowledge that, at the time, there were areas in which improvement was needed. Work to give effect to these changes began in 2012 and is subject to continuous improvement and review.

“I would also add that none of these issues alter my view that in the case of Mr Alwitry’s appointment, the right decision was made and for the right reasons.

“The hospital’s new Managing Director took up her role at the start of 2013 and, building on the work that began in the latter part of 2012, with her team she has undertaken extensive work on strengthening our processes; this covers recruitment policy and procedures, training and record-keeping.

“Since 2013, we have successfully recruited 21 new consultants. These new appointments were made in line with an extremely robust procedure that has attracted positive comment from both successful and unsuccessful applicants, as well as from Royal Colleges and other professional bodies.

“The 21 new appointments have included two new consultant ophthalmologists, while a third ophthalmology appointment has been made, with the successful candidate due to take up their post in August 2016.

“I am concerned that the terms of reference have vastly expanded without the opportunity for officers to provide the appropriate evidence for the new areas under review. Regrettably, staff have had their integrity and their honesty called into question in a public document, without any opportunity to put forward the facts of the case as they were at the time.

“I confirm that the staff work for the best interests of patients in Jersey, have done for many years, and will continue to do so. For that reason they have my support.”


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Posted by david forde on
But the States Employment Board today issued a statement saying it flatly rejected the findings of the States Complaints Board – saying they do not intend to pay four years’ wages to Mr Alwitry by way of compensation.
Wonder what the legal fees are going to be paid by the taxpayers for this piece of stupidity! The said aggrieved medic has a clear cut case!
Posted by Sarah Ferguson on
The only reason that the SEB even considered further investigation was because several States Members protested. Otherwise they would just have rubberstamped the H&SS action.
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