Doctor wins £4.5m payout

27/07/2010'Dr Eva Michalak at Leeds employment tribunal.'Eva, who was the first consultant physician at the hospital to become pregnant and take maternity leave, was appointed in 2002 to do ward rounds and make decisions on patient's treatment and her absence meant that 10 doctors would have to do work they felt was below them. 'They actually appointed a locum consultant to cover her work but unbelievably then applied for and were granted a pay rise to cover the extra workload - not telling the trust someone else had been employed.'When Eva returned and asked for the same money, she was hounded and forced out of her 90,000 pounds a year post amid a series of totally false allegations, after a suspension without warning in January 2006 which was repeatedly extended for a total of two and a half years before she was finally dismissed in July 2008. 'Byline Andrew McCaren/Ross Parry Agency
27/07/2010'Dr Eva Michalak at Leeds employment tribunal.'Eva, who was the first consultant physician at the hospital to become pregnant and take maternity leave, was appointed in 2002 to do ward rounds and make decisions on patient's treatment and her absence meant that 10 doctors would have to do work they felt was below them. 'They actually appointed a locum consultant to cover her work but unbelievably then applied for and were granted a pay rise to cover the extra workload - not telling the trust someone else had been employed.'When Eva returned and asked for the same money, she was hounded and forced out of her 90,000 pounds a year post amid a series of totally false allegations, after a suspension without warning in January 2006 which was repeatedly extended for a total of two and a half years before she was finally dismissed in July 2008. 'Byline Andrew McCaren/Ross Parry Agency
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A HOSPITAL consultant hounded out of her job after taking maternity leave has been awarded almost £4.5m in compensation.

Dr Eva Michalak was awarded record damages for unlawful sex and race discrimination after being unfairly dismissed from her job at Pontefract Hospital.

An employment tribunal heard that workmates held secret meetings and created false allegations against her, including claims she bullied junior doctors, when she left the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust to have a baby in 2003.

Polish-born mum Dr Michalak, of Leeds, successfully claimed she had been a victim of sex and race discrimination at the 36-day employment tribunal in 2010.

Last Thursday, she was awarded £4,452,206 for sex and race discrimination. She was awarded £7,180 for unfair dismissal.

Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper said the trust must make sure the payment – the largest amount ever to be awarded by a UK employment tribunal – did not hit services in the district.

The trust already has to cut £30m from its budget this year, a further £30m next year and last month warned it needed a £14m bail-out to help balance its books.

Ms Cooper said: “The trust needs to ensure that this payment for past problems does not affect current services for local people.

“The local NHS is already facing serious budget pressures and cuts to different services as a result of government plans.”

The panel’s written judgement described how Dr Michalak was left traumatised by her experience while working for the trust. She suffered symptoms including nightmares, insomnia, anxiety and depression.

In evidence to the tribunal, a medical professor who examined her said: “Her condition arises from her experiences at the hands of her employer.”

After the ruling, trust chief executive Julia Squire said: “We have only just received the judge’s decision on the compensation and this is based on very complex and lengthy calculations.

“We will need time to carefully consider these but ensuring high quality patient care continues will be paramount in any decision.”

She added: “We have unreservedly apologised to Dr Michalak for mistakes of the past and I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that apology in public.

“We took last year’s tribunal judgement extremely seriously and immediately had an independent review carried out.

“This found no evidence of widespread discrimination across the trust and has helped us shape further improvements to ensure that what happened in the past is never repeated in the future.”