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Rose Gibb wins key legal battle in her pay-out claim

Rose Gibb
Rose Gibb

by Mary Graham

The disgraced head of a hospital trust rocked by deadly superbug outbreaks has won the right to a full appeal in her bid to be paid £250,000.

Rose Gibb, stepped down from the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust in October 2007 after a damning report criticised hygiene practices at hospitals and linked the C-diff bug to 90 deaths between 2004 and 2006.

In April, Miss Gibb, was told by a High Court judge that she had lost her battle to be paid the money, known as a Compromise Agreement.

The judge had made a ruling that she should not launch an appeal, but earlier this year, that was overturned.

Initially Miss Gibb was only allowed to appeal the refusal on one legal point - trying to argue that the trust had not acted outside its legal powers in coming to the agreement to pay Miss Gibb on condition she left her job and did not speak to the media.

But on Friday, the appeal court said she could appeal fully against the decision. Miss Gibb’s counsel will also be allowed to pursue a legal case that the hospital trust gained unfair advantages by reneging on the deal, and that Miss Gibb relied on assurances given by the former hospital board that the deal to pay her was "watertight."

As soon as the Healthcare Commission’s report was published, in October 2007 former health secretary Alan Johnson announced in the commons that no severance money should be paid and the trust sought legal advice.

Miss Gibb has been paid £75,000, the legal minimum the trust said it could pay, representing six months in lieu of notice.

The appeal hearing will be heard in March and the decision to allow a full appeal will upset relatives who watched their loved ones die after becoming infected with the C-diff superbug.

Just this week, at the Kent Messenger’s question and answer session with Gordon Brown, Jackie Stewart, whose mother Mary Hirst died in Maidstone Hosptial after contracting the infection twice in 2006, asked the Prime Minister to intervene in Miss Gibb’s battle to get the money.

Mr Brown said he could not interfere with the legal system, but added: "Big pay-offs to people in charge who make mistakes are unacceptable."

Jon Restell, chief executive of Managers in Partnership, the union handling Miss Gibb’s case, said: "We’re satisfied with this latest twist in the legal case, but it will be the last thing the families of those who died at the hospital want to hear.

"This case should never have come to court. Rose Gibb wanted to stay and face the music. She should have been held to account at a proper disciplinary hearing, and either cleared or sacked without a penny."

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