NHS whistleblower warns against raising concerns

Dr Mattu exposed the cases of two patients who had died in crowded bays. Credit: ITV Daybreak

An NHS whistleblower who fought a 13-year-long battle against unfair dismissal has told Daybreak if he had his time again he would not raise concerns about patient safety for fear of retribution.

Heart specialist Dr Raj Mattu's battle began when he raised concerns about overcrowding of post-operation patients at a hospital in Coventry.

The 54-year-old was vindicated last week when a tribunal ruled in his favour and declared he had been unfairly dismissed by the University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.Dr Mattu blasted a statement by the trust which rejected the ruling as "typical" and "untrue".

In 2001, he exposed the cases of two patients who had died in crowded bays at Walsgrave Hospital.

He claimed a policy of allocating five patients to four-bed bays in December 1999 had prevented vital equipment being used to save the life of a 35-year-old man.

The specialist decided to "go public" in September 2001, after a hospital manager appeared in television news reports insisting that lives had not been lost because of overcrowding.

Dr Mattu's fight has also taken a toll on his wife Sangeeta, who described the 13-year fight as "absolutely devastating".

Sangeeta said the case had been so consuming the couple had taken the "difficult decision" not to plan a family.

Last week employment judge Pauline Hughes ruled the consultant "did not cause or contribute to his dismissal" and had been subject to "many detriments" by the trust as a consequence of being a whistle-blower.

His allegations had been "serious" and "attracted a great deal of media coverage and public interest"

She also ruled that the surgeon had been treated "unfavourably" by the trust as a result of a disability. But she dismissed Dr Mattu's claims of racial discrimination.