“The very sight of the NHS logo makes me feel sick”.
These are the words of Lancaster surgeon Peter Duffy, who says a 10-year campaign against him left him ill and feeling unable to work in the NHS again.
The consultant urologist said he has been torn away from his family and his professional career is in tatters after speaking out about allegations of medical negligence.
Mr Duffy said he felt forced to quit his NHS job after whistleblowing on the doctors. He has now been awarded a £102,000 payout by an employment tribunal in Manchester.
Mr Duffy said he now suffers from chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the treatment he was subjected to while working for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.
The 56-year-old father-of-three was labelled racist by colleagues after he raised concerns to the Care Quality Commission about alleged medical malpractice at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
In a statement to the tribunal, Mr Duffy claimed to have witnessed a series of errors including several missed cancers.
In one case, Mr Duffy claimed a major clinical error was narrowly avoided when he spotted a patient was due to have the wrong kidney removed. Another alleged error saw a young teenager wrongly diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, resulting in the removal of a testicle. And Mr Duffy said the avoidable death of one patient led to instructions from the coroner not being obeyed.
Mr Duffy said he was subjected to “malicious, toxic and false” allegations over 10 years – none of them substantiated.
He later transferred to Furness General Hospital in Barrow, where he went on to be voted Doctor of the Year. But the following year he resigned from the trust, claiming his £200,000 salary had been cut by £36,000. He was later told he was the subject of an historic triple racism allegation.
In his witness statement to the tribunal, Mr Duffy said that since 2016 he had not been back to anywhere in the trust. He currently works on the Isle of Man – which has a separate health system from the UK – and is living separately from his family and friends.
“I have compared it with like being in prison or like being deported,” the statement said. “I am very very lonely and feel extremely traumatised by what has happened.
“During my career as an unskilled teenage theatre orderly and auxiliary nurse, medical student, junior doctor, middle grade, consultant surgeon and lead clinician encompassing over a third of a century of commitment to the NHS, UHMB and general public I believe that I have at all times acted in the best interests of my patients and the NHS itself.
“I am far too frightened to ever consider returning to the NHS despite my lifelong vocation to serving this organisation and its laudable values, which I still emphatically believe in. The very sight of the NHS logo makes me feel sick.
“I believe that a clear and sustained campaign of victimisation, vilification and disinformation was aimed at me by the clinicians who were responsible for the clinical errors and avoidable deaths.”
The tribunal found Mr Duffy was unfairly dismissed due to breach of contract over pay.
The trust denied constructive and unfair dismissal.
David Wilkinson, director of people and organisational development said: “We are disappointed and saddened that Mr Duffy’s contractual dispute with the trust ended with legal proceedings and we were not able to settle his concerns in a more informal manner. It is important to remember that the majority of accusations made by Mr Duffy were withdrawn on the first day of the Employment Tribunal. We have worked hard here to ensure that we have a culture where safety – both for our patients and our staff – is paramount and where staff are able to raise concerns without any fear.”