Winckworth Sherwood

UK 200 2013 position: 94

Can a court intervene in disciplinary proceedings?

In the case of West London Mental Health NHS Trust v Chhabra, the Supreme Court considered whether it could award an injunction to restrain the trust from pursing disciplinary charges relating to breaches of patient confidentiality that had been characterised as charges of gross misconduct.

The employee was a consultant forensic psychiatrist at Broadmoor. The employee was subject to an investigation in relation to a number of allegations including that she had breached patient confidentiality. The investigation was instigated following a civil servant having complained that she had seen the employee reading reports on a patient whose name and details could be clearly identified, while travelling on a train. It was also alleged that the employee had dictated two tapes containing confidential patient information while on public transport.

During the investigation, the employee admitted to breaching patient confidentiality by having patient documents clearly visible in a public environment and dictating two reports that included patient-sensitive information in public arenas. A number of the other allegations were rejected…

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