The partner of a nurse who burned himself to death near Kensington Palace after being unfairly sacked today launched a campaign to help other NHS staff in distress.
Terry Skitmore hopes to crowdfund a £1m reserve in memory of Amin Abdullah to prevent similar tragedies by ensuring nurses facing disciplinary action receive support.
It will also include an annual award for clinical excellence and compassion in nursing.
An independent inquiry today found that Mr Abdullah, 41, took his own life on February 9, 2016, after being treated “unfairly” by managers at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
Mr Abdullah, who had a “record of unblemished conduct” and won an award for his clinical skills, was dismissed in December 2015 after signing a petition in support of a fellow nurse who had been criticised by a patient at Charing Cross hospital.
He also sent a private letter of support to the colleague on the surgical ward, describing the patient as a “professional complainer”.
Today’s report said there was “no evidence” the letter was malicious and concluded: “It is clear from the evidence that Nurse Abdullah was treated unfairly.”
Mr Skitmore, who called for a parliamentary inquiry into the regulation of NHS managers, said: “I hope that the inquiry report will led to meaningful changes in the wider NHS so that what happened to Amin can never again happen to anyone in the NHS workforce.”
It emerged today that Mr Abdullah’s mother had taken her own life in an identical manner when he was aged seven. He grew up in an orphanage in Malaysia, his father having left when he was a baby.
All three staff criticised for their role in Mr Abdullah’s flawed disciplinary process remain employed by the trust, a spokeswoman confirmed.
The report said the actions of the investigating officer “give us serious concerns” and said the trust should “consider the implications for [her] integrity and her suitability for the role”.
Responding to an Evening Standard inquiry, Imperial said in a statement: “Amongst many findings and recommendations, Verita has raised issues about specific individuals which we will actively follow up but, as this case shows is so important, that will be done fairly and with support and following proper processes. It’s also important to recognise that the report documents a whole series of actions – from the way a patient’s comments were dealt with on the ward to the way Amin’s disciplinary case was constructed and managed – that, combined, resulted in Amin’s dismissal. The Trust’s leadership team have a responsibility to do more to build an organisational culture where concerns and poor behaviours are addressed as openly and constructively as possible.”
Trust chief executive Professor Tim Orchard accepted the report’s findings in full. He said: “It is now clear that we let Amin down and, for that, I am truly sorry.”
* An edited version of this story appears in tonight’s Evening Standard.