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Tribunal told of sick doc's Ireland job interview
TOP surgeon who is claiming up to £4million in damages from Basildon Hospital attended a job interview in Ireland while on paid sick leave, a tribunal heard.
Arjuna Weerasinghe, 50, was dismissed for gross misconduct after he was found to have misled bosses at the hospital about his medical condition.
He claims he contracted antibiotic resistant pneumonia while working in contaminated theatres at the hospital’s cardiothoracic centre.
However, the consultant cardiothoracic surgeon told an East London employment tribunal he was in fact sacked for whistleblowing about poor healthcare standards there.
Mr Weerasinghe fell ill in December 2011, and was then in and out of hospital with various respiratory illnesses which left him with a cough, shortness of breath, and very weak.
He alleges hospital trust bosses used his illness as an excuse to get rid of him because he was a whistle-blower.
However, the tribunal heard he was sacked last November after the trust found he had travelled to Cork, in Ireland, to attend a job interview and Europe to attend seminars while on sick leave.
Clinical director Chanaka Karunaratne conducted a disciplinary hearing at the hospital and told the tribunal Mr Weerasinghe had been asked to meet with bosses, but informed them he was too unwell.
He said: “He gives you a picture of a seriously ill man, on the other hand, one week later Mr Weerasinghe travelled to Cork.”
Dr Karunaratne added if Mr Weersinghe had been well enough to travel, he could have carried out work that did not involve patient contact or anything too strenuous.
Mr Weerasinghe, of Canary Wharf, East London, is suing the hospital trust for unfair dismissal, disability discrimination and whistleblowing.
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