A TOP doctor was the target for a smear campaign after accusing his bosses of discrimination, a tribunal heard.
Dr Arthur Speight had hoped to extend his career beyond normal retirement age in 2007 but his application to County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust was turned down.
But when he told trust bosses that he would take a claim of age discrimination against them, colleagues were allegedly asked to discredit him through a complaint made to the General Medical Council (GMC).
The allegations - which the trust denies - have been made at an employment tribunal in Newcastle where Dr Speight is claiming a five-figure sum in damages.
Dr Speight, 68, from Durham City, told the three-man tribunal panel that he was "shocked and upset" at his treatment after "long, loyal and unblemished" service.
He said County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust's medical director Mr Robert Aitken "actively solicited" complaints about him from consultant colleagues to form the basis of a dossier referred to the GMC in March last year.
The GMC dismissed the allegations about Dr Speight and no action was taken against him.
In evidence to the tribunal, Dr Speight said: "At a meeting to discuss the issue of my retirement there was a heavy period of silence and he started by saying 'I thought you were going to retire'.
"I found his manner ungracious and accusatory. Mr Aitken said the Trust planned to reduce consultant numbers.
"Yet I was told the reason for rejecting my application to work longer was because two doctors were being transferred to University Hospital from Bishop Auckland."
Dr Speight added: "I have seen letters which show that Mr Aitken had been soliciting complaints against me from the month I retired.
"The final decision of the GMC was to the effect that the case against me was closed with absolutely no action taken."
He added: "This is as close to a complete vindication as the GMC ever provides, and is strong evidence that the charges made against me by the Trust were false."
Dr Speight applied to extend his post at the University Hospital of North Durham in July 2007 when he reached normal retirement age, but his application was turned down as the trust tried to make savings to its budget.
Giving evidence at the hearing, Mr Aitken insisted there was no malice in his decision to contact the GMC and request a disciplinary review of Dr Speight's working practices.
He said: "Dr Speight's application for delayed retirement was rejected because it didn't fit in with the operational needs of the department. Following Dr Speight's retirement, his work was taken over by Dr Helen Leonard and she undertook a review of his cases, the results of which caused her serious concern."
The tribunal will reserve judgement on the case for deliberations.
Article from Newcastle Chronicle