Former Isle of Man Medical Director was 'unfairly dismissed' employment tribunal finds

Dr Rosalind Ranson was the Isle of Man's Medical Director at the beginning of the pandemic, but claims she was 'moved sideways' into an 'empty shell role'. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

The Isle of Man's former Medical Director was unfairly dismissed after questioning the government response to the Covid-19 pandemic, a report has said.

Dr Rosalind Ranson had claimed if the government had taken her advice sooner during the pandemic, "more lives would have been saved".

But, after speaking out she found herself side-lined before eventually she was dismissed from her role.

Now, an employment tribunal has found the former Medical Director was unfairly dismissed by the Island's Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) after she had 'blown the whistle' about her concerns.

The Isle of Man spent much of 2020 'Covid-free' after closing the borders to visitors. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

After losing her job, Dr Ranson took the DHSC to tribunal where she said she had received poor treatment and was dismissed from her role after questioning some of the decisions made in the government's response to the pandemic.

A 200-page report into the events said when the Island's new healthcare service 'Manx Care' was created in April 2021, Dr Ranson fully expected to transfer to it as Medical Director.

Instead, she was moved sideways into, what the judgment called, 'an empty shell role' still within the DHSC.

In closing statements Dr Ranson's lawyer claimed the DHSC may have concocted documents submitted as evidence, suggesting the metadata showed this to be the case.

The tribunal also raised concerns about the destruction of some documents, and has requested both parties liaise about the non-disclosure and destruction of documents at a future date.

It concluded that because Dr Ranson had 'blown the whistle,' speaking out about her concerns, she was first side-lined and eventually, unfairly dismissed.

It added the DHSC did not have any fair reason to justify the dismissal and, as a result, a further hearing will be needed to discuss appropriate remedies.

Most Covid-19 restrictions have now been lifted in the Isle of Man, with some still remaining in healthcare settings. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Following the tribunals conclusion, Dr Ranson said: "The past two years have seen the highest but also the lowest parts of my career.

"The highest because eventually the Manx Government and healthcare leaders did heed my advice and the team I led and Covid-19 was, for most of 2020, eradicated on the island, allowing the public to live a life free of restrictions.

"However, if my advice had been heeded earlier, more lives would have been saved."

The British Medical Association has since released a statement in support of Dr Ranson.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA Chair of Council said: “It is shameful and unacceptable that doctors who speak out about patient safety concerns can suffer victimisation and detriment for their commitment to patient care.

"This also dissuades others from feeling able to speak up and threatens the ability for the NHS to become a safer health service.

She continued: "Having personally communicated with Dr Ranson about the unwarranted attack and disadvantage she suffered, I am pleased that the BMA supported her successfully and that justice has been delivered."

The Chief Minister of the Island, Alfred Cannan MHK, has said he will make a statement in Tynwald next Tuesday 17th May to address the findings.

He has issued a statement saying:

“While the operation of the sub judice principle prevents public discussion of matters which are subject to ongoing judicial consideration, the Tribunal’s findings raise a number of concerning broader questions about the culture within the Isle of Man Government as well as the quality of leadership and the management of performance. 

“We must be assured that the public service is working effectively from the highest levels down, so that government can get on with delivering for the people of the Isle of Man.

“Government’s culture must be one of openness, respect and accountability with a focus on delivery and productivity by a public service workforce that has the right character, capability and credibility.  It is a fundamental characteristic of a robust public service that everyone should be able to challenge and that their voice will be heard.”