South East Wales

Cardiff surgeon Peter O'Keefe claims dismissal over whistle blowing

Peter O'Keefe
Image caption Mr O'Keefe arrives at the preliminary employment tribunal in Cardiff on Friday

A heart surgeon who was dismissed for bullying colleagues has claimed he was unfairly sacked because he "blew the whistle" on patient safety concerns.

Consultant Peter O'Keefe was suspended from Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales in 2012 and dismissed in August 2015.

On Friday, an employment tribunal heard claims his dismissal was prompted by concerns he voiced over patient safety.

However, the health board said his claim was "frivolous".

Mr O'Keefe, 51, had been suspended on full pay for more than three years while the health board investigated allegations against him.

He was dismissed with immediate effect in August last year after an independent inquiry panel found he had bullied and harassed 26 colleagues over a ten-year period.

An appeal panel subsequently upheld the ruling in the case.

But the preliminary hearing in Cardiff on Friday was told by Mr O'Keefe's lawyers he was sacked after raising concerns to managers following a report into the death of a patient in 2011.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption He was suspended from University Hospital of Wales in 2012

The concerns were shared with those he was criticising who "took umbrage" and demanded he withdraw the comments, the tribunal heard.

There was also a "reluctance or refusal" by some to work with him.

Yet Giles Powell, counsel for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, told the hearing Mr O'Keefe's unfair-dismissal claim should be struck out as it was "frivolous".

He added that Mr O'Keefe himself had conceded he "behaved unacceptably".

Judge Wayne Beard reserved judgment on whether to grant the health board's application to strike out his claim to a date yet to be decided.

Related Topics

More on this story