38 trust staff sacked in discipline probes

Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc
Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc

Some 59 Southern Trust staff have been investigated over alleged serious breaches of discipline during the past three years, it has been revealed.

The trust, which covers the Dungannon District, launched investigations into the cases and suspended the staff members involved for an average of 85 days, however, it would not reveal the reasons for the supensions.

Only 21 of the investigations resulted in the staff being reinstated to their posts. The cost of suspending the staff members on full pay amounted to £292,265.

Alarmingly the cost has more than doubled in the past two years, rising from £63,295 in 2012 to £164,401 in the past year, with the number of probes rising from 17 to 22.

The figures, released by the Northern Ireland Assembly, come in the wake of government reports into alarming failings at hospital trusts in England, including Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Northern Trust had the fewest suspensions with nine in the past year, while the South Eastern Trust had the most at 35.

A spokesperson for the trust said: “We employ approximately 13,000 staff and it is Trust policy not to comment on current or former employees.

“We expect all employees to achieve and maintain appropriate standards of conduct, performance and behaviour. Unfortunately, on a small number of occasions, the Trust is required to initiate its disciplinary procedures where it is alleged these standards have not been adhered to.

“Precautionary suspensions are considered in circumstances where an investigation needs to be carried out into allegations of serious misconduct. The decision to suspend is only taken after careful consideration and where it is necessary to ensure patient / client safety, to protect the individual staff member against any further complaint or to ensure an investigation is allowed to proceed unhindered.

“Reasons why staff can be suspended may include alleged professional misconduct, fraud/theft issues, drug/alcohol misuse / incidents, data protection breaches.”