Top employment lawyer calls for new probe into sacking of talented Whittington Hospital nurse

Jessica Learmond-Criqui

Jessica Learmond-Criqui - Credit: Archant

A prominent employment lawyer has called on the Whittington Hospital to reopen an investigation which led to a talented nurse being sacked after she was wrongly accused of fraud.

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, of Redington Road, Hampstead – who successfully represented Stephanie Booth, the stepmother of Cherie Booth, QC, in a whistleblowing case – said the hospital had a “moral” duty to get to the bottom of the nurse’s case in the light of new evidence which proves her innocence.

Andrea Guy, a nurse of 20 years, was dismissed in 2009 for allegedly administering chemotherapy to patients without being qualified to do so, and adding her name to a special register which lists nurses who are permitted to give the cancer treatment.

But last week the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) found the evidence on which her dismissal was based was “fraudulent” or “incorrect” and cleared her of any wrongdoing, describing her as a “talented and highly skilled nurse”.

Ms Learmond-Criqui, 49, said: “The Whittington needs to look at this case and reopen their investigation. They need to reconsider the information and reverse it if necessary. They need to fix this woman’s life and make reparations. This is a person’s livelihood.

“She’d put in 20 years of service and by all accounts is a good employee. It seems the investigation came to a finding which is palpably wrong.

“That needs to be looked at by a third party and repaired because they cannot stand by in the light of the decision by the NMC that she was properly qualified to administer chemotherapy.”

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Retired consultant haematologist and medical director Dr Norman Parker, who worked with Ms Guy at the hospital in Magdala Avenue, Highgate, went public about her case last week.

The consultant said he was convinced of the nurse’s innocence, but was repeatedly ignored by hospital bosses when he tried to raise his concerns.

An internal investigation failed to uncover the truth and as a result Ms Guy was sacked. The NMC later found that the chemotherapy register on which the investigation was based was “fraudulent or incorrect”.

Ms Guy has since found a new job but at a considerably lower salary.

Ms Learmond-Criqui, who has been ranked in the The Legal 500 as having a leading reputation in employment law, says she is willing to undertake the investigation and seek compensation for Ms Guy.

She said: “There now appears to be incontrovertible evidence that the basis on which they dismissed Ms Guy was incorrect and there are public statements by a senior doctor that there may have been foul play.

“On a moral level they need to get to the bottom of this.

“The Whittington should look at ways of compensating this individual for the consequences of their actions.”

An employment tribunal upheld the hospital’s decision to sack Ms Guy.

But as it was based on evidence that the NMC has since ruled was “fraudulent or incorrect” Ms Learmond-Criqui says there could be grounds for an appeal.

She said: “Because she was left out of work as a result of this she could potentially be awarded from a tribunal if given leave to bring a claim at so late an hour.”.

Dr Parker said he welcomed Ms Learmond-Criqui’s comments but hoped the Whittington would take steps to remedy the situation without legal action.

A spokesman for the Whittington said: “In 2009, we carried out an internal investigation into the conduct of a registered nurse. This resulted in the nurse being dismissed.

“The process followed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council is independent of any actions taken by the trust.”