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Unite says reinstating Cassaglia would undermine industrial relations with GHA

St Bernard's Hospital. Photo by Eyleen Gomez

Unite the Union has sought clarification from the GHA on whether it intends to reinstate former Medical Director Dr Daniel Cassaglia into the role.

Unite said it had received previous assurances from the Gibraltar Government that, following concerns from members in the GHA, Dr Cassaglia would not be handed any line management responsibilities.

“We have sought clarification from the GHA as to whether recent reports were true and the rationale behind any decision being considered,” said Unite’s Sam Hannessey.

“The GHA have confirmed that no decision at this time has been made and that Unite will be informed once a decision is made.”

“At a time when health workers on the frontline continue to undertake selective industrial action across nursing, industrial grades and dentistry, a decision by the employer to reinstate the previous Medical Director into his former position will undermine the initial improvements experienced in terms of industrial relations.”

“If the GHA proceeds and therefore proves recent news reports to be accurate, then Unite will consider escalation amongst its membership.”

“Furthermore, Unite also remains vigilant against any political pressure from [the Government of Gibraltar] in instructing any reinstatement, as this gives lie to the idea of no political interference in the GHA.”

The union said it would continue to seek dialogue with its members and the GHA on this issue.

Dr Cassaglia stepped down from his role as Medical Director in October 2019 pending the outcome of a disciplinary process following allegations he had bullied a hospital biochemist in 2017, and of parallel legal challenges following an Employment Tribunal decision against the GHA.

Dr Cassaglia successfully appealed that decision in the Supreme Court, which found that the incident could not be classed as bullying in law and overturned the Employment Tribunal’s ruling.

The biochemist, with the support of Unite the Union, appealed that decision but the Court of Appeal upheld the Supreme Court’s ruling and made clear that the conduct attributed to Dr Cassaglia did not amount to bullying in law.

Unite insists that the tribunal’s factual findings – that Dr Cassaglia pushed the biochemist on the shoulders, raised his voice and used inappropriate language during a disagreement over access to patient data –had not been altered by the subsequent judgements of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.

But Dr Cassaglia has denied the accusations against him from the outset, though he was unable to challenge the Employment Tribunal’s factual findings because appeals are only allowed on points of law.

However, a GHA disciplinary process last year dismissed all charges of misconduct against him after hearing evidence from all parties involved.
Unite did not refer to this in its statement.

At the time, the GHA said the disciplinary board’s decision brought the matter to a close and that Dr Cassaglia’s integrity and professionalism was “entirely undiminished”.

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