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Questions raised over NHS deletion of thousands of emails during whistleblower tribunal

NHS doctor Chris Day has won the right to challenge a tribunal decision which raises questions about information governance in NHS hospital trusts and the use of digital evidence by employment tribunals.

Day blew the whistle on acute understaffing at a South London intensive care unit linked to two patient deaths in 2013. His decade-long legal campaign has since exposed the lack of statutory whistleblowing protections for nearly 50,000 doctors below consultant level in England.

An appeal tribunal in February refused Day the right to challenge key aspects of an earlier tribunal ruling that cleared Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust (LGT) of deliberately concealing evidence and perverting the course of justice when one of the trust’s directors “deliberately” deleted up to 90,000 emails midway through a tribunal hearing in July 2022.

Day’s high-profile case nevertheless continues to raise questions about information governance practices in NHS hospital trusts and the degree of scrutiny applied to digital evidence retention and disclosure practices at UK employment tribunals.

The 2022 tribunal heard that LGT communications director David Cocke had attempted to destroy up to 90,000 emails and other electronic archives that were potentially critical to the case as the hearing progressed.

However, any remaining documents among the tens of thousands of emails and electronic archives, which NHS trust lawyers told the tribunal had been “permanently” destroyed, are likely still to exist and be recoverable, according to an expert consulted by Computer Weekly.

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Source: Computer Weekly, 19 March 2024


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