A doctor who was unfairly dismissed from her role as medical director on the Isle of Man after expressing concerns over the Manx government’s handling of Covid pandemic advice, has been awarded £3m in compensation.
In January 2022, the employment and equality tribunal heard that Dr Rosalind Ranson, who was medical director at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) between 2019 and 2022, was dismissed after she raised serious concerns, which included whether the then chief executive, who was not medically qualified, was passing on her advice to ministers.
Dr Ranson made a number of disclosures between April 2020 and March 2021 about concerns over patient safety, governance, and failures within the DHSC to pass on expert advice to ministers to shut borders sooner. As a result, after a period where she felt marginalised, she was unfairly dismissed from her role.
Her main job had been to oversee a reorganisation of health services on the island and to provide expert medical advice and guidance on how the health system should respond to the pandemic.
The tribunal report said DHSC chief executive Kathryn Magson became “frustrated and irritated” with Dr Ranson’s challenges, leading her to be undermined and excluded.
Dr Ranson was not moved into Manx Care when the new health service body was created in April 2021, and instead was left in an “empty shell role” in DHSC, it added.
The tribunal found that Dr Ranson had “endured a period of torrid humiliation with stoic dignity until her health suffered”.
She won her tribunal case in May 2022, but remedy was delayed until now in part because of the lack of availability of a key witness: psychiatrist Professor Tony Elliot, who had assessed Dr Ranson and concluded she had suffered from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of her experience.
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The gross £3,198,754 compensation includes £1,464,118 for lost future earnings and £749,718 for lost future pension payments. She was awarded £40,000 each for personal injury and injury to feelings and £185,320 for loss of earnings to date.
Dr Ranson said, in response to the award: “This has been a traumatic few years. Doing my job to the best of my ability and fulfilling my professional obligations, meant that I personally paid a huge price. For me it is a tragedy that my 35-year career in medicine has come to an end through these circumstances.
“My health has suffered, my reputation destroyed, my career shattered. I have lost my belief in essential human kindness because I have seen that the default position for many people was to protect their own personal interests, regardless of the consequences. When this behaviour extends to those who hold the most powerful of positions and in whom the public place their trust, then consequences must flow, action is needed, and the outcome of my tribunal hearing must not be the end.”
She added: “Whistleblowing has the power to stop, prevent and avoid wrongdoing, prevent harm, and save lives. These opportunities were not just lost at the time but the failures to act on all the concerns I raised have to date achieved none of these things. Wrongdoing has gone unchallenged; harm has occurred not just to me but to others and I believe that there was avoidable loss of life.”
Tina Wisener and Kate Kapp of Doyle Clayton who were appointed by the British Medical Association to represent Dr Ranson said: “The sum awarded to Dr Ranson reflects not only the career damaging treatment she was subjected to, but also the unreasonable way in which the [Isle of Man] DHSC conducted the litigation which, the tribunal found, included more than one ‘false allegation’ about her. She has been awarded sums for aggravated and exemplary damages, both of which are exceptionally rare.”
The lawyers added: “An award for costs is far from the norm and has been awarded because of the gross misconduct of the Isle of Man Department of Health and Social Care. The tribunal found that the DHSC ‘fought tooth and nail…on a false basis to the substantial detriment of Dr Ranson and at the expense of taxpayers on the Isle of Man.”
Sybille Raphael, legal director of whistleblowers’ charity Protect said it was important to her case that Dr Ranson had the support of her union – the BMA – and legal expertise, adding this was “something that would help so many whistleblowers who have to face complex laws and a mighty employer alone.”
She added: “Dr Ranson has been found to have raised very serious concerns and the refusal of the Manx government to take them seriously led to tragic consequences. Also tragic was the price Dr Ranson had to pay personally for doing what we hope every medical director would do: speak out to stop harm. Her whistleblowing was career-ending, it is right that tribunals pay compensation that reflects the life-long losses that can come from whistleblowing. It is always a tragedy that whistleblowers are not heard and treated well: a tribunal is the last resort.”