NHS must pay out for ‘spoiling tactic’ over reference for worker

Susan Simms from Bedhampton
Susan Simms from Bedhampton
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A HEALTH worker let down by a ‘fake barrister’ has finally won a legal claim against the NHS.

Susan Simms was one of several people represented by Yvonne Turley, who was unmasked as having no legal qualifications.

Fake barrister Yvonne Turley, who previously represented Susan Simms

Fake barrister Yvonne Turley, who previously represented Susan Simms

Turley represented Mrs Simms at an employment tribunal after the former phlebotomist claimed she was bullied in her job while working for NHS Portsmouth Hospitals Trust.

Back then, Mrs Simms settled with the trust with an agreement it would give a set reference for new jobs she was applying for.

But a judge has now ruled the NHS breached its contract with Mrs Simms when a HR manager, Nick Oldfield, replied to a request for a reference but added words to the agreed terms.

Mrs Simms, of St John’s Road, Bedhampton, was offered a job subject to references by Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust in January 2014.

Mr Oldfield replied to a question asking if he would recommend Mrs Simms by saying: ‘With some reservations due to my involvement with her through HR policies and processes.’

Deputy district judge Clive Wiggins, sitting in Portsmouth, said: ‘It has 
the flavour of a spoiling tactic.’

Mr Oldfield was not in court to explain his response and there was no evidence it was malicious.

Mrs Simms had won the agreement when represented by Turley, who was ultimately disbarred in 2014.

In deciding Mrs Simms’ claim last month, judge Wiggins said there was a ‘binding contractual obligation’ to provide the reference and it had been breached.

But he only handed Mrs Simms £200 damages as he said the agreed reference ‘falls short’ and was not meaningful as it only listed her job description, duties and length of service.

He added: ‘In terms of any liability my finding was that there was breach of contract in particular the statement by Mr Oldfield in response to the question.

‘That statement should not have been made.’

But he added: ‘The damage she suffered did not in itself lead to the loss of employment opportunity.’

Mrs Simms, who intends to appeal against the amount of damages, worked for the NHS trust between December 2008 and 2011.