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Thursday, 09 August 2018

Nurse who took life after losing job 'treated unfairly' - independent report concludes

Written by Sally Wardle

A NHS nurse who set himself alight after losing his job over a disciplinary matter was "treated unfairly", an independent report has found.

Amin Abdullah, 41, died on February 9, 2016, close to Kensington Palace in London, weeks after being dismissed from Charing Cross Hospital.

The Malaysian-born nurse (pictured), who became depressed when he was ordered to leave his job, was due to appeal the decision just two days later.

An inquiry into the disciplinary process found the investigating officer had repeatedly raised questions about Mr Abdullah's honesty "on the basis of little or no evidence".

The independent report, commissioned by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, concluded: "It is clear from the evidence that Nurse Abdullah was treated unfairly."

Professor Tim Orchard, chief executive of the trust, said: "Above all else, it is now clear that we let Amin down and, for that, I am truly sorry."

Terry Skitmore, the partner of Mr Abdullah, welcomed the findings of the investigation which he said had highlighted "flaws and failures" in the disciplinary process.

He said: "I now only have Amin's ashes and my memories of him to comfort me.

"Nothing can bring Amin back, but I am determined to do all I can to make sure his story is listened to by those who have the power to change things in the future."

Disciplinary proceedings were brought against Mr Abdullah in September 2015 after he signed a document in support of a colleague who had received a patient complaint.

He also wrote a letter for his colleague to use as a basis for her own version, in which he branded the patient a "professional complainer against NHS staff".

Mr Abdullah "should have known that signing the petition was not appropriate", the independent report said, however it noted that none of the other 18 signatories was disciplined for their involvement.

Writing the letter was also "a mistake", according to the report.

"However, the evidence indicates that Nurse Abdullah wrote it for a specific purpose and intending only Nurse X to see it," it added.

"This may have been naive but we found no evidence that it was malicious."

During the disciplinary process, the investigating officer "failed to disclose evidence which was critical of her but which tended to exculpate Nurse Abdullah", the report found.

The trust "should consider the implications for the investigating officer's integrity and, ultimately, her suitability for her role as a senior member of staff", it added.

A disciplinary hearing took place three months later on December 16 - a delay the report described as "troubling" - and Mr Abdullah was dismissed by email on December 21.

The investigation also criticised a report produced by a senior HR manager after Mr Abdullah's death as a "whitewash" which "served to reassure the trust that it had handled the case with due care and attention".

Professor Orchard said the trust accepted the findings and recommendations of the report. It has also commissioned an overhaul of how disciplinary processes are managed.

He said: "I very much regret that Amin is not here to be offered an apology for the mistakes that we made and a personal commitment from me that we will act on all of the learning from his case."

A coroner at an inquest held last year ruled Mr Abdullah had "killed himself while the balance of his mind was disturbed".

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) PA.