A former NHS boss has been awarded £1.2 million after being unfairly dismissed for whistleblowing.
Earlier this year an employment tribunal ruled that John Watkinson, ex-chief executive of the Royal Cornwall and Hospital Trust (RCHT), had been unfairly sacked and should receive £67,250 after the trust failed to follow proper procedures during his dismissal.
The tribunal ruled on 27 August that Mr Watkinson should also receive £1.2 million for the whistleblowing part of his claim.
Watkinson was suspended in 2008 after concerns about his management. He claims he was later sacked because he was about to go public with legal advice that suggested that the transfer of cancer services outside his county was unlawful without a public inquiry.
Compensation for a successful whistleblowing claim is unlimited as the statutory cap for unfair dismissal compensation does not apply if the reason for the sacking is protected disclosure. This can result in a large compensation award if the employee was on a high salary. Before his dismissal, Mr Watkinson earned around £148,000 per year.
Speaking shortly after the judgment, Mr Watkinson said: “This judgment shows that my treatment was unfair and restores my good name and reputation. It cannot, however, give me back my career in the NHS, for which I have worked for over 34 years.”
The judgment by the Exeter employment tribunal criticised the fact that key witnesses from the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) were not called to give live evidence and that witnesses for the trust “appeared to be unable or unwilling to give straightforward answers to simple questions”.
The compensation award is now subject to an appeal by both the RCHT and SHA.
An independent report concluded in July that the move had been in the best interest of patients after the cancer service relocated earlier this year.