Hospital manager 'humiliated' colleague

A FORMER manager at Ipswich Hospital likened her boss's behaviour to that of an abusive husband, an employment tribunal has heard.

Will Clarke

A FORMER manager at Ipswich Hospital likened her boss's behaviour to that of an abusive husband, an employment tribunal has heard.

Gillian Kemble claimed that senior manager Robert Power shouted at her and told her “she was not worth the money she was paid”.

Mrs Kemble and Sue Gill, a former personal assistant to Mr Power, are claiming up to £70,000 in compensation for constructive dismissal against Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust over his alleged behaviour.

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Mrs Kemble, 61, who was being cross-examined at the tribunal in Bury St Edmunds yesterday, made the claims relating to a period in 2006 following Mr Power's promotion to directorate manager on July 28, 2006.

In a statement to the tribunal, the former assistant service manager, from Colchester, said she felt Mr Power was “targeting” her because he felt threatened by her.

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She said Mr Power's aggressive attitude and constant changes of instruction made her feel worthless and harassed, and matters came to a head on September 25.

On that day Mrs Kemble claimed Mr Power confronted her in relation to a financial database she was compiling and then reduced her to tears with a series of “machine gun” questions. She said every time she tried to answer his questions he would interrupt her with further quizzing.

Mrs Kemble said: “He shouted at me and said the database was 'rubbish'. He said I didn't have a clue what I was doing and that I obviously had no idea about finances.

“I was very shocked and upset by his attitude and I was unable to give him any detail - I had very little idea what the figures related to.”

Mrs Kemble said Mr Power then went on to tell her he had “no confidence” in her ability to do the job and that she “was not worth the money she was paid”.

After the incident, she said Mr Power followed her to her own office where he asked for staff sickness information but she said she was too upset to provide him with any figures.

Mrs Kemble said: “I felt as though I had been hit by a machine gun. Robert's assistant (Mrs Gill) asked if I was okay and gave me a hug. She had heard Robert shouting - I felt completely humiliated.”

The 61-year-old said she had confided with a colleague that the experience had brought back memories of a former abusive husband, who she said used the “same tactics” but she was persuaded not to tell Mr Power “so as not to encourage him”.

Under cross-examination by Clare Harrington, for Ipswich Hospital, Mrs Kemble said Mr Power's attitude was the driving force behind her decision to resign on November 10, 2006.

She denied Miss Harrington's assertion that she knew “nowhere near enough” to help balance the hospital's budget but admitted that despite six years experience in the role the period concerned had been a “huge learning curve”.

The tribunal also heard Mr Power was concerned because of his responsibility for a “potentially terribly serious situation” in which patients' letters had been “misfiled” during that period in late September/early October 2006.

Mrs Gill, 47, from Ipswich, who is supporting Mrs Kemble's claims in her case against the hospital, was Mr Power's PA, as well as a nurse administrator and patient coordinator.

The case continues.

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