A Christian doctor in the U.K. says he was fired for texting "Have a peaceful Christmas" to a colleague, emailing a prayer to hospital staff, and refusing to "refrain from using religious references in his professional communications verbal or written."
David Drew was the pediatric clinical director at Walsall Manor Hospital in Birmingham, England. But he was stripped of that title back in 2008, he says, after he complained that the hospital had allowed "terrible deaths" to pinch pennies, reports the BBC. He also said in a statement to an employment tribunal on Monday that a colleague had sent a baby home with "suspicious injuries." A week later the baby was killed by his stepfather.
Drew believes his demotion was linked to his whistleblowing.
Drew raised other concerns, like about patients being put at risk by reductions in nursing staff. In March 2010, an independent review panel reported that there was evidence of "whole systems failure" in the department.
The hospital trust began an investigation into Drew's conduct. In the subsequent report, the 64-year-old doctor claims that he was told to avoid religious references. The report mentioned the Christmas text that he had sent his colleague, Rob Hodgkiss.
"While DD may regard such messages as benign RH perceived them as aggressive and unwelcome intrusions into his private time," the report said.
Drew claims Hodgkiss, at the time, replied "likewise."
The hospital's CEO allegedly wrote Drew in March 2010, and told him to accept the recommendations in the report, reports The Daily Mail. Drew says that he replied that same day, asking for a clarification. Two days later, he was told to accept the recommendations or resign.
"If the trust wanted me to behave in a different way they should give me some explanation," Drew said.
"There was a suggestion that he was being almost picky and pedantic by questioning the trust," according to Drew's lawyer, Ian McKivett.
In June, Drew says he was "offered a generous financial inducement to leave quickly and quietly," which he declined, "on the grounds of conscience."
He was fired a few days before Christmas. The hospital said Drew was an excellent doctor, but there had been a breakdown of trust, reports the BBC.
Drew lost his appeal in April last year. But he's still seeking justice through an employment tribunal, which began Monday and is expected to continue for three weeks. Drew said at the hearing on Tuesday: "The allegation that I have forced my religion on to other people, that I am some kind of religious maniac, was made worse by the fact that they told me there was no need to understand what this is all about."
Religion and the workplace are a heated topic right now in the U.K. Two British women, who were punished for wearing crosses at work, are taking their cases to the European Court of Human Rights. But Drew believes religion in this case was more of a scapegoat: The hospital just wanted the whistleblower out.
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