Andrew Brangwyn, an occupational therapist, has a phobia of blood and needles and was unable to attend to patients – particularly, when it came to changing their dressings. He was terminated by the hospital when he couldn’t properly perform his duties at work.

Taking legal action against NHS

Brangwyn is now suing the NHS for GBP140,000 under the basis that he was wrongfully fired. According to him, his blood phobia is a disability, which his bosses failed to help him manage at work, when it came to changing the dressings of patients.

According to Brangwyn, his bosses were very accommodating and understanding at the beginning. They allowed him to work in other departments that didn’t put him in contact with blood or needles for seven years.

After that, his duties and responsibilities at work were changed six times over a span of two years. In 2012, he took a long-term sick leave after he couldn’t go through his daily routine at the hospital anymore.

Brangwyn ’s barrister, Sarah Keogh, explained, “His problems arose from seeing patients in their beds and from seeing patients where they have open wounds or are having their dressings changed. Promises were made that he wouldn’t have to do anything that might bring on his phobia, but they were “never entirely echoed” in his job description.”

The 65-year-old decided to lodge an official complaint at an Employment Tribunal about the South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust because they didn’t to view his phobia as a disability. His complaint on the ground of ‘disability discrimination’ was rejected; but he’s allowed to take his case to the Court of Appeal.

Reviewing his case, the judge said “He had a phobia in respect of blood, injections and needles and, it later emerged, in handling patients. It grew so significant that he found it difficult to contemplate going to parts of the hospital that – unfortunately for someone with his phobic anxieties – he worked in.”

The 65-year-old hospital worker took South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust to an Employment Tribunal, complaining of disability discrimination. Photo credit: Daily Mail
The 65-year-old hospital worker took South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust to an Employment Tribunal, complaining of disability discrimination. Photo credit: Daily Mail

NHS policy regarding the health and safety of medical staff

In its policy, NHS promises to put the health, safety and welfare of their staff first. The same policy mentions that everything will be provided to ensure that their staff is able to work safely and effectively; and, also to make sure that they are competent and confident in carrying out their duties.

In Brangwyn’s case, he clearly feels that the hospital didn’t do enough to provide him with a safe working environment. In fact, he feels that the hospital put him in situations where his phobia was triggered even more and made him scared to go to work.

As stipulated in NHS policy, “Employees must be treated with respect at work, and be given the tools, training and support to work safely with opportunities to develop and progress.”

While Brangwyn notified his bosses of his condition, they understood and provided him with an environment that was right for his state of mind. Unfortunately, the change wasn’t for long and Brangwyn felt that the hospital didn’t really care about his situation enough or didn’t think his phobia was important.

As of now, no date has been announced by the court for the next hearing. MIMS

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