Disciplinary hearing.(165 Posts)
I have worked in the NHS in different clinical roles for almost 30 years. Had promotions and no issues from clinical or behaviour point of view in that time. Clean record. Last year I made a serious mistake and a patient could hve died as a consequence. I recognised what I had done and accepted an investigation was necessary. However I have been repeatedly told that I now could face a summary dismissal for gross misconduct and I don't know how to go on. I fully accepted my mistake and feel destroyed by the whole process. Not one person in the organisation has offered any support and the stress and anxiety is killing me. I have my hearing soon and I honestly feel suicidal at the prospect. I have lost my career my good name and risk losing my income. I have support from friends but feel so isolated and ashamed.
So sorry you feel like this. Your manager and HR should be offering you more support. Everyone makes mistakes and we are all human. Are you part of a union and have they been helpful? Have you contacted occupational health at your trust? Lots offer counselling. Who has told you that you could face a summary dismissal for gross misconduct?
You really need union support, if you belong to one.
You have done the right thing by admitting it. There will still be a hearing, but in the meantime you need to start gathering evidence of your previous good service and conduct. Copies of PMRs, training certificates, letters of support etc. Any evidence that this was a one-off incident. You should ask HR for counselling. Also, ask HR if they can send you on some refresher training. All of these things prove that you are willing to engage and prevent a reoccurance.
I hope it goes well for you.
My manager is conducting the investigation and has told me (in writing) I face summary dismissal. I have had no contact with HR apart from 1 meeting to establish the facts of the case. I have not tried to cover up my role and fully accept the failings in the case. I can hardly believe that a 30 year unblemished career means nothing. I had some counselling from Occupationl Health that helped a little but I cannot face the prospect of this hearing. I feel deeply traumatised.
Have you been suspended since it happened? If not and you’ve been at work, has there been any change in how you’ve carried out your duties, or additional supervision etc since it happened?
Not suspended but off sick with anxiety and stress. Union has been involved and done all the information gathering. I can accept some of what needs to happen in principle to protect patient safety but the process is unbelievably cruel and I can't understand who benefits from this.
The length of time it’s taken must be awful as well x
Have your union said anything about the prospect of dismissal?
I had a disciplinary last year (which my union guy pointed out should never have gone beyond the investigation.) Not NHS, though.
I was also told it could result in dismissal, as that is a possible outcome of the disciplinary process. Check your disciplinary process - it might be they have to tell you this, whether or not it's actually a likely outcome for a particular case.
It is a very stressful process, whatever the outcome, so good luck.
Thank you for kind replies. I did fear an attitude of "you made a mistake now you have to face the consequences" which is prevalent in the NHS. My union rep does not think it is likely I will be dismissed but cannot rule it out. If I do keep my job I don't see how I could ever function clinically again. I would be in endless fear of making another mistake and the pace of work does not allow for slow decison making. I feel trapped in a nightmare.
It is.cruel the way they deal with this. You should have been sent all the relevant information and your rights to union representation. It might be worth speaking to your union legal department for some independent advice. Were you the only person involved in the error. It is stressful and I am not surprised you are off sick.
No I wasn't the only person involved but I was the most senior and I did accept responsibilty at the time. It has come on top of a lot of difficult stuff that has happened in my personal life as well and I just don't know how to go on. I feel so depersonalised and disregarded. I have seen my GP and started meds for anxiety which helps a little but each day feels like a burden with only more bad stuff to come.
When did your manager tell you that you would be dismissed? That suggests the outcome of the disciplinary hearing has been pre decided and that’s unfair process.
It wasn't that I would be dismissed but that it is a potential outcome of a misconduct hearing. Even if I am not I have lost all faith in the NHS processes and feel I will just be waiting for the next incident. It is so frightening.
I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Is it a mistake that could happen again? How supportive are your union?
I don't believe I would ever make this particular mistake again. But I can't say I would never make any mistake and the fear is just crippling. I didn't realise that there is literally no support from the organisation. Only the union rep and she clearly thinks I'm a bit hysterical! She is right but I was not like this before. I was quick and calm and in control. Now I am a wreck.
Every single disciplinary hearing has to warn the employee of the potential outcomes including that it could end up with summary dismissal. Belt and braces from any HR/legal team would write this as a potential outcome even if everyone knew that wouldn't really happen going in just in case they uncovered something else during the investigations.
Honestly I think you need to look at getting back to work. Has your union advised you to gather mitigating circumstances evidence? Don't present it at this stage but once you have it go and see an employment solicitor for their advice.
My main concern from what you've written is that you signed off on some form of corner cutting but you need to explore why you did that. Because you were all pissed from the night before, you're problem. Because you didn't even have appropriate staffing ratios, theirs. Do you see what I mean?
Don't back down on this. The NHS can't afford to lose a career clinician. Humans make mistakes, even the demi-god consultants will have some mistakes in their past. Remember too that mistakes are only as serious as the actual consequences. Not the what ifs. And if they start saying "what if XYZ hadn't caught it then this patient could've died" well they didn't and it just proves that mechanisms are still in place to protect against errors.
Finally don't be afraid to go to tribunal and don't be afraid to get support outside your union either from a solicitor.
Yes I've got mitigating circumstances, reflection and written testimonials from colleagues. Their overall response is that of "if this can happen to you it can happen to anyone" type. I was well thought of and while it may seem trivial my loss of good name really affects me. I cannot imagine ever going back but can't afford to leave. I feel so trapped between bad choices.
Who has told you that you could face a summary dismissal for gross misconduct?
It would be in the formal paperwork setting up the investigation and the disciplinary hearing.
This is my team’s bread and butter work, OP.
The process is in line with the ACAS code. It’s to ensure that you get a fair hearing - I’m afraid your feelings don’t come into it. I’ve been at several hearings where nurses are dismissed for misconduct or negligence - they all have mitigating circumstances but the nursing code is clear that they should not practice if unfit to do so. Sadly this means they often face dismissal.
If you want to PM me, OP, feel free. Nobody enjoys this process, but it is necessary.
What do you want to happen now, OP? Is your plan to get through the investigation, accept the outcome and then leave on your own terms?
Although it's easy to say as an outsider; you'll find that the process feels a lot less overwhelming if you've got a clear plan. Do you want support to go back to work in the NHS? Do you want to retrain as something else?
ime they have to tell you what the worst case scenario is in terms of outcome when you have a disciplinary hearing. It doesn't mean it's the likely outcome. I sat in on a hearing once in which the employee was advised the same, she got a written warning which would be removed from her record after 6 months. Sounds as though you have a good case to reduce the severity of the outcome. Good luck.
It sounds like the whole process is causing you extreme anxiety and loss of confidence. Being off work is giving you more time for this to be going round and round in your head. If you're a doctor there is a helpline, if you're a nurse can you ring the rcn helpline. There will be a process they need to follow, it wont be that your manager alone can just dismiss you.
I work in patient safety for the NHS. Can I suggest that you look at the Just Culture guidance from NHSI (sorry
can't do clickly link on my phone) improvement.nhs.uk/resources/just-culture-guide/
It sets out the expectations of the NHS when it comes to managing patient safety incidents where staff have made errors etc. Your organisation should be taking this approach. From what you have said so far: one off error, immediately open there should be no reason to take a disciplinary approach at all.
From what you have said so far: one off error, immediately open there should be no reason to take a disciplinary approach at all.
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