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DDA member wins employment tribunal case

Serial dispensing errors result in fair dismissal for gross misconduct

June 21st 2022

Tagged: HR Zone news

By Ailsa Colquhoun

DDA member Cowfold Medical Group fairly dismissed a dispenser without notice for gross misconduct due to a series of dispensing errors., a tribunal has found.

In the judgement, the dispenser Mrs U D Rasarathnam (the claimant) alleged unfair dismissal by the practice (the respondent), damages for breach of contract in respect of wrongful dismissal and redundancy. The claimant was employed by the respondent as a dispenser from 8 March 2008 until her summary dismissal on 22 June 2020.

The case centres on a series of dispensing errors occurring between September 2019 and May 2020, including:

  • Supply of incorrect CD medication to a patient
  • Failing to follow the dispensary’s process
  • Dispensing of Tramadol three days prior to its legal issue date
  • Incorrect quantities of medication being dispensed.

Prior to dismissal, the respondent had highlighted to the claimant the need to continue to focus on accuracy in dispensing, checking and endorsements and to accept criticism in a positive way.

In response, the claimant’s asserted that all dispensers make mistakes and that she had learned from the appraisals, attempted to improve her practice and was sent on further training.

On 13 May 2020, the practice manager wrote to the claimant confirming that she was suspended from work on contractual pay to allow for an investigation into allegations of unsafe working practices in relation to the dispensing of medications.

The letter set out the areas of concern to be discussed at that meeting, indicated that if substantiated they would be regarded as matters of gross misconduct which could result in dismissal without notice. The letter set out a list of the attached documents which would be used in support. The letter also advised the claimant of her right to be accompanied by a colleague or a trade union official.

Rejecting the claimant’s explanations at the meeting for the allegations, the respondent said that in the circumstances there was no option but to make a recommendation to dismiss the claimant for acts of gross misconduct. The respondent asserted that lesser sanctions had been considered but rejected.

To find in favour of the respondent, the judge said that there had been a reasonable investigation which reached reasonable conclusions on which to form the belief that the claimant was guilty of misconduct. The disciplinary process was also felt to be fair.