The case ‘Epsom & St. Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust v Starling’ and the decision that was reached by the EAT has shown the importance of disciplinary procedures being followed to every minor detail, as well as showing that there needs to be proper and reasonable causes for a departure.
In this incident, nurse ‘S’ was requested to turn the incubators on in preparation for a patient's treatment that was going to take place the following day. She was unable to do so, as she felt unwell and so she had to go to the Accident & Emergency department. She called the doctor when she realised the mistake to let him know.
The mistake could have had dire consequences, as it could have caused issues with regards to the patient’s procedure. Thankfully, though, treatment was arranged somewhere else.
The doctor issued an improvement notice. However, before such a notice can be issued, there must be an informal meeting with the employee, as per the Trust’s policy. No meeting was arranged or issued.
Alongside the ET, the EAT determined that if there has been such a meeting, the doctor would have had full information about what had happened.
He would have been in a position to use the facts to make a decision.
In the end, nurse S resigned because of the conduct of the Trust.
It was deemed a constructive dismissal because there has been a breach of the implied term of confidence and trust.