Tribunal rejects Indian doctor’s race discrimination claim against NHS Tayside

A consultant psychiatrist from India was not racially discriminated against when NHS Tayside terminated his contract without explanation.

An employment tribunal in Dundee found that Dr AK Sen Gupta’s superior acted unreasonably by not giving full reasons for dispensing with his services.

The health authority argued that the behaviour did not establish discrimination, however, and the tribunal concluded that Dr Gupta’s Indian race was not a factor in his contract being ended.

The tribunal, chaired by judge Ian McFatridge, heard that Dr Gupta was enlisted by NHS Tayside as a locum consultant in 2010 to cover a vacancy in general adult psychiatry for the Arbroath and Carnoustie Community Mental Health Team.

He had come to the UK to make money as a result of having to rebuild his property in India, but concerns arose about his way of working.

Evidence was heard that be lacked knowledge of patients he had recently seen, did not seem to know the names of his colleagues and he scheduled additional clinics over and above those in his timetable.

Junior doctors complained about a lack of guidance from him and he seemed to have a problem with urgent referrals.

Dr Gupta also had his secretary type his personal letters one to the Queen and one to the Prime Minister on NHS Tayside-headed notepaper in work time.

He also asked her to make personal arrangements for him in relation to a holiday, and she felt uncomfortable about being asked to do these things.

A problem also arose about him being charged for his living accommodation at Ninewells Hospital while he made a trip back to India.

He had apparently not understood that he should have cleared the flat and returned his keys while he was away.

A meeting was held to address various issues but the tribunal noted that Dr Gupta and his superior Dr Roger Blake, the lead clinician for general adult psychiatry in Angus, left with differing views of the outcome.

Dr Gupta wrote to Gerry Marr, then chief executive of NHS Tayside, with a series of complaints about the accommodation and services, and claimed support from a number of colleagues.

Mr Marr’s director of operations replied but Dr Gupta wrote back repeating his criticism.

The operations director then received a letter from two doctors at the Ninewells residence dissociating themselves from Dr Gupta’s comments and accusing him of misrepresenting their sentiments.

Relationships with Dr Gupta deteriorated and Dr Blake came to the view that his engagement as a locum was no longer tenable.

He understood, after discussing the situation with the HR department, that there was no obligation on NHS Tayside to provide reasons for terminating the engagement.

He called Dr Gupta to a meeting on May 6 2011 to tell him his contract was over.

He was replaced as a locum by a Dr Chandrasekhar, who is Indian, and a Dr Shill, who is American.

Dr Gupta accused NHS Tayside of race discrimination but looking at the case as a whole the tribunal could not see anything from which they could infer that motive.