West London MH NHS Trust v Dr Chhabra [2013] EWCA Civ 11, [2013] MHLO 2

(1) Various complaints had been made against Dr Chhabra, including in relation to breaches of patient confidentiality, and the case investigator's report stated that Dr Chhabra admitted to reading CPA notes and dictating reports on public transport. (2) Upon reading the case investigator's report the case manager decided to convene a disciplinary panel to consider the following allegations and to consider them as potential gross misconduct which could lead to dismissal: (a) that Dr Chhabra breached patient confidentiality whilst reading notes and discussing patients whilst on public transport (the complaint being made by another passenger who happened to be Head of Secure Services Policy at the Department of Health); (b) that she undertook dictation on at least two occasions whilst completing Mental Health Tribunal reports whilst on public transport (the complaint being made by a member of secretarial staff); (c) that whilst travelling to work on public transport she would often call her secretary to discuss patient related matters breaching confidentiality (the complaint being made by her PA). (3) The High Court had made a declaration and injunction the effect of which were to prevent a disciplinary panel from investigating these complaints as matters of gross misconduct and under the terms of its disciplinary policy. (4) The Court of Appeal overturned that decision, stating the case manager's decision was justified on the basis of the disciplinary procedures and the evidence: patients' right to confidentiality is fundamental in the Health Service and must be respected by doctors and other staff; the case manager was entitled to regard breach of it in a public place by a consultant at Broadmoor as a potentially serious offence.

Related judgments

West London Mental Health NHS Trust v Chhabra [2013] UKSC 80, [2013] MHLO 118

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