Rose Gibb, the sacked chief executive of Maidstone And Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, where 90 patients died from Clostridium Difficil infections, is in court claiming £250,000 for breach of contract.

Giving evidence, DH director of finance David Flory yesterday admitted that Ms Gibb had been "unjustly denied" her employment rights, and also revealed that he had been asked for advice by the region’s strategic health authority, NHS South East Coast, regarding a potential payoff to Ms Gibb.

However, the Trust signed a severance package and compromise agreement with Ms Gibb over her departure before Mr Flory had responded. Following the publication of the Healthcare Commission’s report into the C Diff outbreak which attributed the deaths to poor infection control practice at the Trust, there was widespread coverage in the national media.

Stopping the agreed pay-off
Mr Flory told the court that following discussions with NHS chief executive David Nicholson and Health Secretary Alan Johnson, he write to the Trust ordering them to stop the agreed payment and give Ms Gibb only her pay in lieu of notice.

He also claimed that he had been unaware of a clause in the agreement between the Trust and Ms Gibb which prevented her from claiming unfair constructive dismissal – thus removing her legal rights under employment law. Mr Flory agreed with Ms Gibb’s counsel Oliver Segal that she had been "unjustly deprived of her right to make a statutory claim, flowing from the particular way she was forced to leave".

The current chief executive of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, Glenn Douglas, said that Ms Gibb’s treatment "had not been as fair as it could have been, but attributed this to the compromise agreement was "erroneously done"