Nurse's suicide: NHS trust questioned Amin Abdullah's honesty 'with little or no evidence' before sacking him, inquiry finds

Inquiry into dismissal of Amin Abdullah, who died by setting fire to himself, said Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust handled him unfairly

Inquiry into dismissal of Amin Abdullah, who died by setting fire to himself, said Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust handled him unfairly

Amin Abdullah. Picture: Dave Marriott

An NHS nurse who set himself alight after losing his job over a disciplinary matter was treated unfairly, an independent report said.

Amin Abdullah died on February 9, 2016, close to Kensington Palace in London, weeks after being dismissed from his job at Charing Cross Hospital.

The deputy ward manager, who became depressed when he was ordered to leave his job, had been due to appeal against the decision.

An independent inquiry into the disciplinary process found the investigating officer had repeatedly raised questions about deputy ward manager Mr Abdullah's honesty 'on the basis of little or no evidence'.

Trust will overhaul disciplinary process

The trust responded saying it will overhaul its disciplinary processes in light of the findings and the chief executive has offered a personal apology.

The inquiry report, commissioned by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, concluded: 'It is clear from the evidence that [Mr] Abdullah was treated unfairly.'

Trust chief executive Tim Orchard said: 'Above all else, it is now clear that we let Amin down and, for that, I am truly sorry.'

Partner calls for change

Mr Abdullah's partner Terry Skitmore welcomed the findings, which he said had highlighted failures in the disciplinary process.

He said: 'I now only have Amin's ashes and my memories of him to comfort me.

'Nothing can bring Amin back, but I am determined to do all I can to make sure his story is listened to by those who have the power to change things in the future.'

Disciplinary proceedings were brought against Mr Abdullah in September 2015 after he signed a petition in support of a colleague who was the subject of a patient complaint. He also wrote a letter for his colleague to use as a basis for her defence against the complaint, in which he described the patient a 'professional complainer against NHS staff'.

Mr Abdullah 'should have known that signing the petition was not appropriate', the independent report said. However, it noted that none of the other 18 signatories was disciplined for their involvement.

Writing the letter was also 'a mistake', the report's authors said.

'However, the evidence indicates that Mr Abdullah wrote it for a specific purpose and intending only Nurse X to see it,' they added. 'This may have been naive but we found no evidence that it was malicious.'

Failure to disclose evidence favourable to Mr Abdullah

The report said that during the disciplinary process, the investigating officer 'failed to disclose evidence which was critical of her but which tended to exculpate Mr Abdullah'.

It said the trust 'should consider the implications for the investigating officer's integrity and, ultimately, her suitability for her role as a senior member of staff'.

A disciplinary hearing took place three months later on 16 December, a delay the report described as troubling, and Mr Abdullah was dismissed by email on 21 December.

HR report was 'a whitewash'

The investigation said a report by a senior human resources manager after Mr Abdullah's death was a 'whitewash' that 'served to reassure the trust it had handled the case with due care'.

The RCN representative who supported Mr Abdullah during the hearing process told the inquiry of his concerns about the trust’s handling of the nurse’s mental health.

Chief executive's personal apology

Professor Orchard said the trust accepted the findings and recommendations of the report. It has commissioned an overhaul of how disciplinary processes are managed.

He added: 'I very much regret Amin is not here to be offered an apology for the mistakes that we made and a personal commitment from me that we will act on all of the learning from his case.'

Last year's inquest into Mr Abdullah's death ruled he had killed himself while the balance of his mind was disturbed.

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