A DOCTOR made threats to refer Wigan’s hospital trust to the Care Quality Commission regulator unless “a decent six-figure sum” was made to him, a disciplinary panel has heard.
Dr Farhan Husain Zaidi was said to have made “serious allegations” against a number of individual trusts throughout the country, claiming that they had been dishonest and deceitful as well as making allegations of race and religious discrimination.
He is appearing before the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) sitting in Manchester to face allegations that his fitness to practise is impaired by reason of misconduct.
The tribunal heard that in a period of less than 12 months starting in November 2012, Dr Zaidi commenced with 99 employment tribunal claims against 15 different NHS Trusts, including Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust.
The hearing was told that he lodged the multiple employment tribunal claims citing patient safety concerns, serious allegations against senior officers and suggestions of dishonesty within Trusts.
The claims - of which he was to later withdraw 98, were made after applying for and not securing posts.
The Trusts included King’s College, Hillingdon, Moorfields, York, Imperial College, West Suffolk, Kingston, Ashford and St Peter’s, Wirral, South Devon, Blackpool, Yeovil, Plymouth, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh and Doncaster.
While Dr Zaidi accepts making and withdrawing the claims, the General Medical Council (GMC), which is bringing the case, alleges that in doing so his conduct was vexatious and wasted National Health Services.
Dr Zaidi denies the allegations and further denies that his conduct was intended to elicit unwarranted financial reward from the NHS.
Representative for the GMC Mr Carlo Breen told the tribunal that the hearing was to make judgments on Dr Zaidi’s course of conduct.
Mr Breen said: “The conduct of Dr Zaidi we say was vexatious, firstly the volume of claims issued against the Trusts throughout the UK is relevant and secondly he raised serious allegations against the Trust, relating to race or religious discrimination and whistleblowing.
“His intention we say was not only to seek financial settlement but to cause annoyance, frustration and general worry to Trusts in question.
“It’s not the case advanced by the GMC that these employment tribunal claims were issued in bad faith, we do not know what his motive was. What is clear is the course of conduct spanning a considerable period of time.”
The tribunal heard that Dr Zaidi was said to have threatened to “go to the media” about “professional issues” at the Hillingdon Trust unless a financial settlement offer was agreed.
In October 2013, it is alleged he made statements to Hillingdon’s legal representative proposing to raise the issue of patient safety at Hillingdon to an external regulator and further proposing to speak with a journalist.
It is alleged that Dr Zaidi would not commence with the said proceedings, if paid a “reasonable” financial settlement by the Trust. He denies the claim.
It is further alleged that in November 2013, Dr Zaidi made statements proposing to refer South Devon and Yeovil to the Care Quality Commission (CQS) - yet would avert from doing so if a financial settlement of the Employment Tribunal Claims could be reached, namely “in a sum exceeding £100,000” in respect of Yeovil.
The tribunal heard that when told he would be pursued for costs against him by Yeovil Trust after requesting “a decent six-figure sum”, he withdrew claims.
Mr Breen said there was not a “single shred of evidence” that any document was sent to the CQC - or any other body raising concerns of patient safety within Trusts, despite Mr Breen claiming it “would have been his duty”.
He added: “Dr Zaidi appears to be telling you he had all these patient concerns but that he in effect trusted the Trust to deal with them internally.
“I ask you to draw the inference the threats were simply to gain financial compensation from the Trusts in question.
“Our submissions are, the course of conduct was vexatious, it brings the profession of medicine into dispute, such conduct amounts to misconduct, it undermines the public interest, confidence in the profession.”
The hearing was told that following the concerns raised by Dr Zaidi at the Wirral Trust, they were to commission an investigation.
However they were satisfied that statements made were “wholly unfounded” and Dr Zaidi was to withdraw the claim having unsuccessfully made an attempt to make a financial settlement.
Mr Breen added: “It’s a matter of fact that he withdrew some of the claims when faced by the unwillingness of the Trust to settle. Apparently he came to that conclusion in or about October 2013 and began withdrawing complaints.”