Carstairs nurses turned up drunk, tribunal told

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A NURSE who claims he was unfairly dismissed from his job at Carstairs State Hospital alleged yesterday that other staff members would turn up drunk for duty.

David Best, 36, who was sacked after sending a hoax lawyer’s letter to a patient at the hospital, told an employment tribunal yesterday that his dismissal was too severe.

The letter was doctored to make it appear to come from a top Glasgow law firm and was sent after the patient made a complaint about staff at the hospital. It was signed ‘’Hugh Jarse, head of litigation.’’

Mr Best, who lives in Carstairs village, argued that other nurses had been convicted of assault outside the hospital, turned up for work drunk and accidentally locked a lawyer in a room with a patient, yet still managed to keep their jobs.

He told the tribunal in Glasgow: ‘’It was done as a practical joke. The individual in question is very insular and quite withdrawn at times. I intended it as humour to make him laugh.’’

Mr Best added: “There was no malice. I had never intended to upset the patient. It was never in my mind to upset him, intimidate him or engage in psychological abuse.”

Mr Best accepted he acted unprofessionally and that he should have been disciplined, but not dismissed.

The tribunal heard earlier that Mr Best was fired for gross misconduct Stephen Milloy, Carstairs’ nursing director, said the patient had not initially accepted the letter was a joke and passed it to his solicitor.

He said: “At no time was Mr Best apologetic, remorseful or regretful. I think the motive of Mr Best was to teach this patient a lesson that he shouldn’t complain about members of staff.

“Looking at that letter, other than the play on words on the signature, it struck me as very threatening. We have some of the most excluded and forgotten about and ill people in this country. They should not be getting threatening letters.’’

The hearing continues.