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Paediatrician loses tribunal claim against NHS trust after ‘exaggerating her account of events’

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In the case of Dr T William v Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust a paediatrician who filmed a colleague in hospital after reporting her to bosses 20 times and was disciplined for ‘exaggerating her account of events’ has lost a tribunal case against an NHS trust.

A tribunal heard that Therese William, a Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist, had a ‘poor working relationship’ with a fellow consultant, referred to as Dr E, when an incident took place at University Hospital Lewisham in July 2019.

On July 30, 2019, an argument escalated when Dr E had complained she had not been able to find Dr William before a complicated twin birth to discuss the procedure. Dr E began filming Dr William, who responded by pulling out her own phone and also started recording the dispute.

Dr William later said Dr E had not been in theatre with her, to which Dr E retaliated by sharing her video to a consultant WhatsApp group with the message: ‘You are such a liar- you looked into my eyes in theatre and yet saying that I was not there. You need to go to Specsavers seriously.’

Following this, Dr William complained to bosses that Dr E had been ‘aggressive and angry’ during the spat.

However, after hearing nothing back from managers she went further to say her colleague had ‘violated all professional boundaries at the workplace’. She also said she felt it was a ‘progressing’ issue and feared that next time Dr E might ‘physically attack her’.

Dr William added that she had ‘managed to escape this time’ as Dr E had sworn, shouted in front of juniors doctors, was aggressive and ‘invaded personal space boundaries’.

With regard to the incident, Employment Judge Juliette Nash said: ‘Some parts of the account were not true and Dr William knew they were not true. [Dr William] herself accepted she had not been sworn at.

‘To sum up, the tribunal found that Dr William considerably exaggerated her account of the July 30 incident. The tribunal was bolstered in its view of Dr William’s further exaggerating the incident by her adding an allegation of assault later in the process.’

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