Page last updated at 09:59 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 10:59 UK

Cornwall hospital boss was 'unfairly dismissed'

John Watkinson arriving at employment tribunal
Mr Watkinson was suspended in 2008 by the trust

A former Cornwall hospital boss was unfairly dismissed from his job, an employment tribunal has found.

John Watkinson was suspended as chief executive of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) in 2008 after concerns about his management.

Mr Watkinson said he was "sacked for doing my duty" because he was concerned about the move of some cancer services and surgery from Truro to Plymouth.

The RCHT said it was "disappointed" and considering an appeal.

Compensation consideration

The tribunal was held in March in Taunton, with employment judge John Hollow presiding.

It concluded that Mr Watkinson was dismissed by the RCHT because of a statement he made to the board in August 2008.

In it he said they were under a "duty" to carry out a public consultation into plans to move upper gastro-intestinal cancer services to Devon.

The tribunal judgement stated that the dismissal was "automatically... procedurally and substantively unfair."

'Lid lifted'

Mr Watkinson said after the ruling: "I believe I was suspended and subsequently sacked for doing my duty as a public servant and seeking to comply with the law.

"This required that the people of Cornwall were properly consulted about plans to move vital cancer services.

"My employment tribunal has lifted the lid on many distasteful aspects of the NHS in the South West. It has revealed a bullying culture and a readiness to ride roughshod over public concerns.

"This judgment shows that my treatment was unfair and restores my good name and reputation."

The tribunal will now consider what compensation Mr Watkinson should receive.

The RCHT said: "We are gravely disappointed at this judgement and are actively considering an appeal."

The controversial cancer service move, which took place at the beginning of this year, is set to be reviewed by an independent panel.

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