Northern Ireland

Doctor settles case against Western Trust for £500,000

Dr Drozdowicz sued for alleged breach of contract linked to her exclusion from the South West Acute Hospital
Image caption Dr Drozdowicz sued for alleged breach of contract linked to her exclusion from the South West Acute Hospital

A consultant anaesthetist is to be paid £500,000 as part of a settlement reached in her legal action against the Western Health and Social Care Trust.

Margaret Drozdowicz has agreed to resign from her post under the terms of a settlement at Belfast High Court.

The Trust is also to pay Dr Drozdowicz's legal costs.

Dr Drozdowicz sued for alleged breach of contract linked to her exclusion from the South West Acute Hospital in County Fermanagh in 2013.

But after a week-long hearing, Mr Justice Stephens was told the parties had arrived at a settlement, with no admission of liability.

Relationships 'broke down'

The anaesthetist, a Polish national, came to Northern Ireland to work within the NHS in 2005.

By 2009 she had become lead consultant in obstetric anaesthesia at the hospital.

But by 2011, her relationship with some medical colleagues was said to have broken down.

She was subjected to restrictions following a number of complaints from other staff at the hospital, who accused her of unprofessional behaviour.

Image copyright xmee
Image caption Dr Drozdowicz claimed she had been ostracised by colleagues after she performed an audit on theatres within the hospital

Her exclusion came after a medical colleague was no longer prepared to supervise her.

Dr Drozdowicz claimed she had been isolated and ostracised by colleagues after she performed an audit on the efficiency of theatres within the hospital.

She alleged it raised serious concerns about the value for money from theatre use and employment of consultants.

According to her, the trust failed to properly investigate her complaints.

She also claimed that her actions led to 13 unfounded grievances against her from colleagues.

She alleged the complaints were an attempt to discredit her after she raised issues about theatres being used for private practice during NHS hours and the use of a drug to counteract deep vein thrombosis.

The Trust disputed her allegations and the court was told an investigation has not upheld her concerns.

'Substandard care'

There is no suggestion of any harm to patients.

During proceedings, Dr Drozdowicz alleged that a dying patient had received substandard care after being brought to the hospital in 2013.

The 64-year-old man was suffering from complaints including pneumonia.

In cross-examination, it was alleged that Dr Drozdowicz was raising her voice and frantically waving ECG forms about within the critical care unit.

A nurse was said to have told her to keep her voice down amid concerns the patient's relatives may witness her actions.

Following out-of-court discussions, it was announced that the breach of contract action has been resolved.

Dr Drozdowicz's solicitor said: "My client is relieved at the outcome, which will see her make a clean break from her employment with the Trust."

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