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29.08.18

Surgeon barred from working at London hospital over bullying claim wins initial High Court battle

A heart surgeon who was excluded from work after being accused of bullying has won the latest stage of a High Court battle.

Professor Marjan Jahangiri, a consultant cardiac surgeon, was barred by bosses at St George’s University Hospitals NHS FT in south London pending a disciplinary investigation after it was claimed that she had shouted at a nurse and prioritised private patients over those using the NHS.

Mr Justice Nicklin QC however ruled in her favour yesterday in the High Court, deeming that the exclusion on 9 August was unnecessary.

The judge noted that Prof Jahangiri was a leading heart surgeon who had an exceptionally low mortality rate of 1.2%, compared to a UK average of 7-15%.

Despite Jahangiri claiming she had been a victim of a “campaign,” Mr Justice Nicklin QC said “any such findings” could only be made under a proper consideration of evidence at a trial.

The surgeon said outside court yesterday: “I am delighted with today’s judgment and very much look forward to returning to my patients. My priority, as it has always been, is combining excelled patient care with research and training.”

“I am devoted to the NHS,” she added.

In a statement released yesterday, St George’s said it has “begun making the necessary arrangements” for Prof Jahangiri to return to the hospital.

St George’s was at the centre of controversy earlier this month after a leaked report written by former NHS England deputy medical director Mike Bewick highlighted a “toxic atmosphere” between rival surgeons camps cold have led to a rise in patient deaths in the heart-surgery unit.

Chief executive Jacqueline Totterdall said the hospital was disappointed by the judgement, but noted that the trust understands and respects it. “It is vital that we ensure that our staff feel able to speak freely to the independent experts we have commissioned to support our work to improve the care we provide and the way our colleagues work in our cardiac surgery service,” she added.

Professor Andrew Rhodes, medical director at St George’s, also commented: “We continue to strive towards providing the best cardiac surgical care possible for our patients, and carry on with rapid action to implement the recommendations of the Bewick report.

“As an important part of this, we have commissioned an independent HR expert to work with colleagues in the department and look closely at behaviours to help the trust understand how best to deal with those issues.”

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Image credit: Jonathan Stilwell, PA Images

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