Army doctor loses ‘whistleblow’ case

Dr Stephen Frost outside the tribunal
Dr Stephen Frost outside the tribunal

A doctor who said he was unfairly sacked by the Ministry of Defence for whistleblowing has had his claim dismissed by an employment tribunal.

Dr Stephen Frost, who campaigned for a full inquest into the death of weapons expert David Kelly, had told the tribunal last October that he was “astounded” to have been dismissed from his job at Weeton Barracks in 2013 after he raised concerns about incorrect prescriptions given to an Army veteran.

In a reserved judgment made last month, Judge Pauline Feeney said the tribunal panel found Dr Frost was dismissed because the MoD felt he had failed his duty of care, not because of alleged whistleblowing.

The tribunal, at Alexandra House in Manchester, heard that Dr Frost had raised concerns with colleagues about the possibility of criminal activity after discovering a patient may have been given morphine sulphate which was six times the strength of his usual dose.

The GP, who had been working as a locum, claimed there was a “criminal conspiracy” to cover up missing drugs.

But the tribunal found that Dr Frost did not make the disclosures to colleagues which he had described.

The panel disagreed about whether patient notes made by Dr Frost could be classed as a “protected disclosure”.

Dr Frost, 69, from Colwyn Bay, accused the MoD of libelling him in emails, sent after his dismissal and forwarded to his primary care trust in North Wales, which mentioned his campaign to reopen the case of Dr Kelly, his links to a “left-wing conspiracy theorist” website and his love of Russia.

The emails, sent between the Army’s head of clinical operations Colonel John Burgess and Colonel Carson Black, then the Army’s regional healthcare director for the North, were forwarded to the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

In them, Col Black said: “Having read widely at the weekend, it’s clear to me Dr Frost has an axe to grind and it surprises me that he has chosen to work in the MoD environment when his views are so strong.”

The emails were criticised by the employment tribunal panel, which also found the way Dr Frost’s termination was handled was “concerning”.

The judgment said: “The Betsi Cadwaladr incident shows the respondent in a poor light, overreacting to the information about the claimant’s activities.”

But the panel found that Dr Frost, who was employed by agency Castlerock Recruitment Group, was dismissed because the Army believed he had failed in his duty of care to inform the patient of the error with his prescription.

It accepted that the MoD would have allowed Dr Frost to return to work if he had undertaken additional training, which it expected to be done through his agency.