Christian doctor sacked for emailing a prayer to colleagues to cheer them up lo
- Dr David Drew dismissed from Walsall Manor Hospital in 2010
- Christian doctor sent prayer to colleagues to offer ‘inspiration’
- Respected Dr Drew claims managers sacked him as a whistleblower
- Consultant paediatrician had expressed concerns about hospital safety
A Christian doctor who was sacked because he emailed a prayer to his colleagues has claimed hospital managers targeted him as an NHS whistleblower after he lost an appeal against his dismissal.
Consultant paediatrician Dr David Drew, 65, sent a 16th-century prayer by St Ignatius Loyola around his department in April 2009, hoping it would be motivational.
Dr Drew, who had an unblemished 37-year career in the NHS, was told to ‘keep his religious beliefs to himself’ by a review panel, which was called to investigate his conduct in March 2010.
After refusing to accept their findings, he was sacked from Walsall Manor Hospital, where he worked as a clinical director.
Today the father-of-four, who lives in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, with his wife Janet, 63, said the email had been used as a smokescreen to push him out of his post.
He said: ‘My case was never about the religion, it was about the fact the hospital wouldn’t listen to its most senior paediatrician telling them they were cutting costs to the bone and putting patient safety at risk.
‘It’s all about whistleblowing. We’ve now got people like Robert Francis [Robert Francis QC, who chaired the public inquiry into the Stafford hospital deaths] telling us doctors and nurses are too scared to raise concerns because it’s considered a career-ending move. ‘There were five gags put on my case so we’ve never been able to interrogate the process used in the review which led to my dismissal.
Whistleblower: Dr Drew believes managers took offence when he pointed out his safety concerns at Walsall Manor Hospital, pictured
‘My case is the exact opposite of the transparency that’s being called for in the NHS today.
‘We have to give doctors and nurses freedom to safely report when they see things going wrong and putting patients at risk. It’s a scandal.’
The doctor was branded as having committed ‘gross misconduct and insubordination’ in December 2010.
An employment tribunal in April last year rejected his claims of unfair dismissal, religious discrimination and victimisation against Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust.
TO GIVE AND NOT COUNT THE COST: A PRAYER BY ST IGNATIUS LOYOLA
Teach us, good Lord
To serve as You deserve,
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest,
To labour and not to ask for any reward,
Save that of knowing we do Your will.
And on Monday this week a judge upheld the decision of the lower court after he deemed its findings were based on available evidence.
Judge Jeffrey Burke QC said the original panel had not made any error in law and rejected claims from Dr Drew’s legal team that their conclusions were ‘perverse’.
Dr Drew prefaced the prayer that he sent around the department, called ‘To give and not to count the cost’, with the words: ‘I find this a personal inspiration in my frail imperfect efforts to serve my patients, their families and our department.’ Managers declared he had created a ‘toxic work environment’ with what were inappropriate religious communications. Dr Drew said today: ‘It was the management that raised a complaint against me after they found an email I’d sent to my colleagues with this traditional, literary prayer in it. ‘They gave me instructions I was to keep my religion out of the workplace.
‘We were a very very happy department with people of different faiths and even some atheists who were quite outspoken.
‘But we were senior, intelligent, well-educated people who were not extreme in our beliefs in any way. We co-existed quite happily.’
Dr Drew was suspended in the same month after a senior nurse claimed he had undermined her, but the allegation was later proved unfounded. Dr Drew was meeting with his legal team yesterday to discuss the case. He plans to release a book about his case in November. A spokesperson from Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust said that the issues that Dr Drew raised today had been addressed through several stringent formal processes on-going since 2009.
The spokesperson said the Trust was satisfied with the outcome of the case and that Dr Drew’s claims had been dismissed, but added: ‘We would like to reiterate that this case did not question Dr Drew’s skills as a Paediatric Consultant and on behalf of the Trust would like to say that we regret that the situation had to get to the Tribunal stage. ‘As a Trust we actively encourage and support our staff to raise an issue if they are concerned about patient care.’