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May 15 2011
by Rachel Wearmouth, Sunday Sun
A DEPRESSED doctor sacked for harassing a colleague is accusing North health bosses of bullying and failing to investigate his condition.
Dr Herwig Thibaut was an “above average” consultant radiologist at Darlington Memorial Hospital but lost his job in April last year after he erupted with rage.
An employment tribunal heard the Belgian doc bellowed at a male consultant who challenged his work and intimidated his colleague by booting a doorstop across the office.
The hearing was told he was on a final warning after “physical and verbal abuse” and inappropriate behaviour towards staff.
Previous complaints, which were not disclosed, also led to the bust-up between the two professionals.
But the doctor, who was taking medication for depression, claims he was provoked and his condition affected his temper.
Dr Thibaut was not struck off for his conduct but says he was unfairly dismissed and has taken his former employers to a tribunal, held this week in Newcastle.
He claims that County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust did not take into account the part his condition had played.
Tim Smith, representing the trust, said the doctor admitted feeling “ashamed”. Dr Thibaut, however, said this was wrong. He claimed: “I did not say I was ashamed, I said I regretted the way things were going.”
He said he was provoked by the consultant and was being punished for drawing “incompetence” to senior management’s attention.
He added: “Given he must have known about my condition there was an element of provocation, and I do think he really didn’t cope well with the way I had criticised him in front of managers.”
The doctor apologised to staff for the incident, but told the tribunal this did not mean he had accepted blame.
He also claimed there was a “culture of putting in claim forms” and he was penalised for “thinking out loud” about his colleagues.
His solicitor Antoine Tinnian also claims the doctor was not aware his job was at risk and did not have time to prepare for a disciplinary hearing.
Mr Smith said Dr Thibaut had produced “no evidence” of bullying and had made similar allegations about other staff when past complaints were lodged.
He also accused Dr Thibaut of “having his cake and eating it”.
He said: “On the one hand he seems to be saying he didn’t behave inappropriately but on the other hand he is saying ‘if I did it was because I was ill.’ It is one or the other,”
A spokesman for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust would not confirm how many complaints had been made about the former consultant, who now works on the Isle of Man.
“Dr Thibaut left employment with the Trust last year,” the spokesman said.
“Since then he has brought an employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal, the judgment of which is still being awaited. It would not be appropriate for the trust to comment further at this time.”
The tribunal will return a verdict on the case in the coming weeks.