Nurse who set himself on fire outside Kensington Palace after losing job was 'treated unfairly', report finds

Amin Abdullah, 41, died weeks after being sacked by email from Charing Cross Hospital

Tom Embury-Dennis
Thursday 09 August 2018 01:15
Amin Abdullah was found on fire near Kensington Palace
Amin Abdullah was found on fire near Kensington Palace

A nurse who burnt himself to death outside Kensington Palace after losing his job was “treated unfairly”, an independent report has found.

Amin Abdullah, 41, died in February 2016, weeks after being sacked by email from Charing Cross Hospital following a misconduct case.

Officers found Abdullah on fire outside the palace at 3am on 9 February, having apparently doused himself in petrol and set himself alight.

The Malaysian-born nurse, who became depressed when he was ordered to leave his job, was due to appeal the decision just two days later.

An inquiry into the disciplinary process found the investigating officer had repeatedly raised questions about Abdullah’s honesty “on the basis of little or no evidence”.

The independent report, commissioned by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, concluded: “It is clear from the evidence that Nurse Abdullah was treated unfairly.”

Professor Tim Orchard, chief executive of the trust, said: “Above all else, it is now clear that we let Amin down and, for that, I am truly sorry.”

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Terry Skitmore, the partner of Abdullah, welcomed the findings of the investigation which he said had highlighted “flaws and failures” in the disciplinary process.

He said: “I now only have Amin’s ashes and my memories of him to comfort me.

“Nothing can bring Amin back, but I am determined to do all I can to make sure his story is listened to by those who have the power to change things in the future.”

Disciplinary proceedings were brought against Abdullah in September 2015 after he signed a document in support of a colleague who had received a patient complaint.

He also wrote a letter for his colleague to use as a basis for her own version, in which he branded the patient a “professional complainer against NHS staff”.

Abdullah “should have known that signing the petition was not appropriate”, the independent report said, however it noted that none of the other 18 signatories was disciplined for their involvement.

Writing the letter was also “a mistake”, according to the report.

“However, the evidence indicates that Nurse Abdullah wrote it for a specific purpose and intending only Nurse X to see it,” it added.

“This may have been naive but we found no evidence that it was malicious.”

During the disciplinary process, the investigating officer “failed to disclose evidence which was critical of her but which tended to exculpate Nurse Abdullah”, the report found.

The trust “should consider the implications for the investigating officer’s integrity and, ultimately, her suitability for her role as a senior member of staff”, it added.

A disciplinary hearing took place three months later on 16 December – a delay the report described as “troubling” – and Abdullah was dismissed by email on 21 December.

The investigation also criticised a report produced by a senior HR manager after Abdullah’s death as a “whitewash” which “served to reassure the trust that it had handled the case with due care and attention”.

Professor Orchard said the trust accepted the findings and recommendations of the report. It has also commissioned an overhaul of how disciplinary processes are managed.

He said: “I very much regret that Amin is not here to be offered an apology for the mistakes that we made and a personal commitment from me that we will act on all of the learning from his case.”

A coroner at an inquest held last year ruled Abdullah had “killed himself while the balance of his mind was disturbed”.

Additional reporting by PA.

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