A DOCTOR believes he was “subjected to brutal retaliatory victimisation” after he raised “whistleblowing” concerns about midwifery care at his hospital, an employment tribunal heard.

Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Martyn Pitman was dismissed earlier this year from the Royal Hampshire County Hospital (RHCH) in Winchester where he had worked in his role for 20 years.

At the employment tribunal, at Southampton Magistrates Court, he is claiming that he suffered a detriment due to exercising rights under the Public Interest Disclosure Act.

The 57-year-old, from South Wonston, told the hearing that he raised concerns about patient choice and safety which he claimed management dismissed out of concern for the “reputational damage” that they would cause.

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The former consultant, who has received the support of thousands of former patients and colleagues on social media, came under fire from the trust’s lawyer Mark Sutton when the tribunal began on Tuesday, September 26.

While denying claims of bullying, an intimidating demeanour and poor communication, Mr Pitman said: “The consultant post was my dream that I worked for 40 years to achieve, why would I do anything to jeopardise that? I wanted to make it better.”

A formal investigation was launched into Mr Pitman in 2019, following a series of allegations of threatening behaviour from colleagues such as director of midwifery Janice Mackenzie and the-then newly-appointed head of midwifery Hilary Goodman.

But the ex-obstetrician told the court the claims were “fabricated” and “completely unfounded” and used by management to get him fired.

Mr Pitman said that a meeting proposed by the senior managers involving midwifery leaders, chief executive Alex Whitfield and chief medical officer Lara Alloway was an “assassination against him.”

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He said: “I wasn’t prepared to go into a meeting where they would all be trying to paint me in a very negative way.”

In a statement produced to the tribunal, Mr Pitman said that the merger of Royal Hampshire County Hospital with Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital NHS Trust in 2012 “proved challenging due to significant differences in the philosophy of care and management style”.

He said: “I was justifiably reluctant to follow the low-risk, senior midwifery-led, pro-normalisation model of care championed by our new partners.

“I believe that maternity care should be patient-focused with parents being able and supported to choose, with evidence-based advice, how and where to deliver their babies.

“Unfortunately, this stance, somewhat professionally unpopular at the time but now fully supported following recent enforced changes in UK maternity practice, made me vulnerable to managerial challenge.”

Up to the Spring of 2019, Mr Pitman said morale was deteriorating in the RHCH midwifery team and clinical midwives had “lost confidence” in the senior midwifery management.

He said: “Concerns included imminent and threatened resignation of our valued midwifery colleagues, increasing sickness rates, recurrent, dangerously low staffing levels preventing safe levels of patient care (inductions of labour were recurrently delayed and prolonged, elective caesarean section lists were delayed and sometimes cancelled due to inadequate midwifery staffing levels) and that we, as a consultant body, were not being appropriately involved in decision making.”

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Mr Pitman states that he was elected by the midwives to act as their “spokesperson” which led to him raising issues with the management.

He said: “I had a professional responsibility and legal duty to voice my concerns related to patient safety and to represent the views of my colleagues.

“This is fully supported by the Trust’s own guideline related to raising concerns and whistleblowing.”

In September 2019, an emergency meeting of consultants was held following “whistleblowing concerns” from the senior clinical midwives that Mr Pitman believes “mirrored” those that he had raised.

He said: “Instead of working with me and my fellow consultants to address the concerns that had been raised, senior managerial colleagues realised the individual and organisational damage that our disclosures could cause.

“They chose instead to recruit the willing assistance of their senior trust managerial colleagues to subject me to a formal Managing High Professional Standards Investigations (MHPSI).

“As a direct consequence of exerting my professional responsibility in whistleblowing concerns I was subjected to brutal retaliatory victimisation.”

The hearing continues.