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Former consultant neurologist suing NHS Tayside for unfair dismissal

Former consultant neurologist suing NHS Tayside for unfair dismissal

A former consultant neurologist at Ninewells Hospital who was struck off following the death of a patient from a brain seizure is suing NHS Tayside for unfair dismissal.

Dr Wlodzimierz Szepielow was judged to be so poor at his job that he constituted a danger to patients.

He scored the lowest mark an examiner had seen in an applied knowledge test and the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) said his serious departure from good medical practice showed behaviour “fundamentally incompatible with being a doctor”.

Dr Szepielow, who came to the UK from Poland in 2005, has raised an action for unfair dismissal against NHS Tayside at the employment tribunal office in Dundee.

He is also claiming discrimination or victimisation on grounds of age and of race or ethnic origin.

He further believes he was the victim of sexual discrimination. The 66-year-old is representing himself at the hearing, which will resume next week.

NHS Tayside is defending the case and is insisting that his dismissal was fair.

The MPTS panel concluded that erasure from the register was the only means of protecting patients and the public interest, and maintaining trust and confidence in the profession.

Dr Szepielow was given a consultant neurologist post by NHS Tayside but over the course of two years many complaints were received from patients.

Concerns were raised by colleagues and, after his work was reviewed, he was suspended in 2007.

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh was concerned he did not have the clinical skills necessary for independent practice but did not consider he should be referred to the General Medical Council (GMC).

Dr Szepielow next worked at the out-patient clinics at Western General Hospital in Edinburgh but he was found to be not competent in neurology or general medical knowledge.

He was referred to the GMC, which thought he showed some evidence of wanting to remedy his failures but was not taking a systematic or effective approach to improve.

Some of his difficulties at Ninewells resulted from his unfamiliarity with the culture, processes and procedures of the NHS, the panel stated. Conditions were imposed on his registration and in 2012 his contract was terminated.

Dr Szepielow did an applied knowledge test and scored “a lamentably low” 17.5%, well below the standard of 52% and the lowest mark one examiner had ever seen.

Speaking before the tribunal, he claimed he could still help the NHS, perhaps as an assessor of other doctors for the GMC even though its Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service struck him off.

Dr Szepielow, who trained as a doctor at a military academy in Poland, said the knowledge test he failed was unfair as it didn’t allow for his age or the fact English is not his first language.

He said the assessments were “very stressful” and were designed for younger doctors. He also claimed the panel was biased and that the saga had damaged his “professional dignity”.

He said he wanted to return to work and “offer my experience in a position not in practice”, perhaps assessing other doctors, but would need to practise first to regain his skills.

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