Retired senior NHS worker wins hundreds of thousands in stress case

A retired NHS bureaucrat has been paid hundreds of thousands of pounds for an apparent stress-related injury after a West Midlands hospital trust “reluctantly” accepted it had no choice but to pay.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Trust (SWBT) decided recently it would have to pay a former Birmingham City Hospital manager £370,550, plus £24,000-a-year for the rest of his life. SWBT, formed in 2002, will not reveal the former employee’s identity or his age, though he retired in 1996 and lodged the claim around that time.

The former senior officer filed the claim with the NHS Injury Benefit Scheme, which deals with claims from health service staff related to workplace injuries. These can include stress. The NHS Business Services Agency administers payment and it ruled that SWBT had to assume liability for the payment and the continuing annual £24,000 payments.

The trust’s director of workforce, Colin Holden, told a recent meeting of its board that it had no choice but to assume liability for the claim and would have to follow an instruction to that effect from the Department of Health.

He said: “It is clear that the trust and its relevant personnel followed the laid-down procedures applicable at the time and every possibility to argue our case was taken. We would have wished to question several issues but were not given the opportunity to be represented at the relevant hearings.

“The sum requested has been accrued in the trust’s accounts and so will not have an impact on our reported financial performance.”

An SWBT spokeswoman added that it had taken legal advice, which advised the trust that it should pay up and keep details, especially the identity of the claimant, confidential. She would not confirm that the injury was stress-related but said that it “did not relate to a physical injury or accident at work”.

It appears the trust has been paying some of the £370,550 lump sum in instalments as the minutes of a meeting of the body on 24 September said “a payment of arrears should be made immediately”, though the spokeswoman would not confirm if this was the case.

That meeting also decided that “the ongoing payments of circa £24,000 per annum should be accepted and paid as and when requested” [by the Department of Health]. The trust’s spokeswoman would not say if this annual payment had been paid since 1996, or whether it was all or part of the claimant’s pension, or if it only commenced from 2009.

If the claimant had retired through ill health at age 50 in 1996, his total payments related to his injury claim could well top £1m.

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