South East Wales

Sacked Cardiff surgeon Peter O'Keefe 'now an Uber driver'

Peter O'Keefe
Image caption Mr O'Keefe arriving at a preliminary employment tribunal in Cardiff last year

A heart surgeon from Cardiff who was dismissed for bullying colleagues is now working as an Uber driver.

Peter O'Keefe, 52, was suspended on full pay from Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales in 2012 and was later sacked in 2015.

He claimed he "blew the whistle" on patient safety concerns and spent two years in an employment tribunal battle.

Now he has settled the case - but plans to stay working for Uber.

Mr O'Keefe was paid £95,000 a-year for three years on gardening leave.

He was dismissed in August 2015 after an independent inquiry panel found he had bullied and harassed 26 colleagues over a 10-year period.

He then tried to sue his former employers, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, for unfair dismissal, claiming he was sacked after whistle blowing on unsafe hospital care.

But his employment tribunal case was called off following 15 months of delays after he accepted an undisclosed cash settlement from the health board.

Mr O'Keefe said he was "relieved" his case had finally come to an end and revealed he has since started working as an Uber driver.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption He was suspended from University Hospital of Wales in 2012

"It's a bitter-sweet outcome for me. It's an enormous relief not to have the pressure on me any more but this has gone on so long and I can't go back to medicine," he said.

"I've tried to get work but I'm the wrong side of 50.

"I came to the conclusion that the best thing was to give myself a job, so I've become an Uber driver and I'm loving it."

A health board spokeswoman said Mr O'Keefe was dismissed for gross misconduct, adding an independent appeal subsequently found his behaviour "amounted to gross misconduct" and that dismissal "was the appropriate sanction".

She confirmed a settlement has been agreed with Mr O'Keefe in order to save costs.

"The settlement which has now been reached in the tribunal proceedings is on the express basis that the health board has not admitted any liability in respect of any of Mr O'Keefe's claims," the spokeswoman said.

"Instead, the settlement was reached on the basis of the saving to the health board of both legal costs and clinical/management time which would otherwise have been incurred during the employment tribunal hearing."

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