Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Tribunal awards consultant £4.5m

Dr Eva Michalak, 53, had worked as an obstetrician at Pontefract General Infirmary

A hospital consultant who lost her job after a campaign to get rid of her which began when she was pregnant has been awarded nearly £4.5 million compensation.

Dr Eva Michalak, 53, who worked as an obstetrician at Pontefract General Infirmary, won claims against her employer for sex and race discrimination and unfair dismissal.

The tribunal in Leeds heard that Dr Michalak, who is Polish, had been left unable to accomplish the simplest of tasks due to the stress caused by the five-year campaign against her.

The tribunal panel said it was "positively outraged" by the way staff at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust had behaved, and the trust and three senior staff members have now been ordered to pay Dr Michalak £4,452,206.60 for the sex and race discrimination. Of this sum, the doctor was awarded £30,000 for injury to feelings and £56,000 for psychiatric damage.

The tribunal earlier this year heard that senior staff members began a "plan" to get rid of Dr Michalak at a secret meeting in March 2003, when she was seven months pregnant.

She began to receive complaints and criticism against her, being accused of bullying junior doctors, until her suspension in January 2006. She was then subjected to "a lengthy and wholly unauthorised period of suspension" before disciplinary proceedings began in May 2007, concluding in her dismissal in July 2008.

In their judgment, the tribunal panel wrote: "As a consequence of that dismissal the claimant has lost her role and status as a hospital consultant, as we will ultimately find, she is never going to return to work as a doctor, a profession which she, in common with both of her parents, cherished together with all the status that that brings with it."

Medical experts had told the tribunal that Dr Michalak had suffered "chronic and disabling" post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, which had led to an "enduring personality change".

Julia Squire, chief executive at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, made a public apology to Dr Michalak. She said: "We have unreservedly apologised to Dr Michalak for mistakes of the past and I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that apology in public.

"We took last year's tribunal judgment extremely seriously and immediately had an independent review carried out. This found no evidence of widespread discrimination across the trust and has helped us shape further improvements to ensure that what happened in the past is never repeated in the future."