FORMER patients and colleagues were out in force at the start of an employment tribunal for a consultant who they believe was wrongfully fired.

Supporters held up banners and wore ‘We support Martyn Pitman t-shirts’ outside Southampton Magistrates Court ahead of the hearing.

Basingstoke Gazette: 'We support Martyn Pitman''We support Martyn Pitman' (Image: Adele Bouchard)

The tribunal of Winchester doctor Martyn Pitman against Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) and chief medical officer Dr Lara Alloway began on Tuesday, September 26.

Mr Pitman claims he was fired for whistleblowing concerns on patient and staff safety which led to a four-year witch hunt leading to his dismissal in March, while the trust says it was due to an irretrievable breakdown in relationships.

READ MORE: Live updates as employment tribunal begins for sacked doctor

Lorraine Edwards, 46, a former midwife working with Mr Pitman for 10 years, was out protesting the injustice she believes he has faced.

Lorraine, who now works for the ambulance service, said: “I’m out here because of the injustice. It’s absolutely astonishing a consultant of his standard was fired.

“We should be protecting people and staff who work for the trust should be able to speak freely and comfortably.

“I’m hoping for justice but obviously also that people are listened to. If they are whistleblowing they should be free to speak up if they feel that patient and staff safety is in danger.”

Basingstoke Gazette: Terri Kemp (centre left) and Lorraine Edwards (centre right)Terri Kemp (centre left) and Lorraine Edwards (centre right) (Image: Adele Bouchard)

Terri Kemp, an ex-midwife and theatre nurse who worked with Mr Pitman for 30 years at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester, was also supporting her former colleague with pride.

Terri, 69, from Emsworth, said: “I was there when he was first put on leave. I thought he was poorly treated but felt sure it would be sorted out, then was appalled that he was dismissed without acknowledgment of any problems.

“There are always two sides to a story but I believe that he is a totally dedicated obstetrician who cared greatly for his patients.

“I’m here to show my strength of feeling about this waste of a career and damage to an individual and his family.”

SEE ALSO: Winchester doctor Martyn Pitman prepares for employment tribunal

Lynda Emptage, who launched the Friends of Martyn Pitman group in March when he was dismissed, coordinated the protest and was one of the few members of the public allowed in to watch the hearing in person.

She said: “It’s been a long time coming. Glad that today is here and hopefully it can be the start of sorting things out for Martyn.

“We’re here to support him and let him know that we are horrified that he has been put in this position. We’re nearly 2,000 people on the Facebook group now, the majority of which are patients, staff or ex-staff.

“Some staff have come out here today but they have had to disguise themselves because they are too afraid to be identified which flies in the face of freedom to speak up campaign that seems to be what the trust is relying on.

“The reality is that staff don’t want to be seen and there are so many anonymous posts now on the Facebook group where so many current members of staff are too afraid to be identified so it’s obviously not working.

“The other reason we are here is to let the trust know how strong the feeling is about their decision. Martyn’s had an exemplary career with no misconduct, negligence or incompetence of any kind so what possible reason can they have to have gotten rid of him other than him being a whistleblower?

“I never imagined the Facebook group would grow into what it has now. I set it up to start with to just allow the people in my circle to know what had happened. I tried to make an appointment and wasn’t able to so delved a bit deeper and found out what was going on.

READ ALSO: County council want public opinion on plans to change future of care homes

Basingstoke Gazette: Martyn Pitman arrivingMartyn Pitman arriving (Image: Adele Bouchard)

“Sadly, this process has completely destroyed Martyn’s confidence and career so I don’t think there is much chance of him going back to work which I think is absolutely terrible as people will no longer benefit from his care.

“There needs to be accountability. He says the same thing that he wants to know no one else will be put through this.”

Before heading into court, speaking alongside his supporters Mr Pitman, said: “It’s been a damaging time for my family. It just feels a bit surreal to reach the point where I can finally tell my side of the story and what I believe to be the truth.

“The support has been incredibly humbling and gratifying after five years of pretty much professional isolation. I’m not the person that HHFT is going to try to say that I am.

“I’m so grateful to Lynda and the other guys for setting this up and being here today. Whatever the outcome, to know I’ve got this level of support of around 2,000 on the Facebook page and 300,000 hits on the Twitter post of my dismissal has been incredible.”

The hearing continues.