A colleague of the Queen’s former physician has said he became an “intimidating character” for members of staff at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
Professor Zygmunt Krukowski claims he was unfairly dismissed from his job at NHS Grampian in 2016 and has taken the health board to an employment tribunal.
He was suspended in 2015 following complaints about bullying and harassment from four colleagues – which he “categorically” denies – and resigned the following year.
Yesterday colorectal surgeon Terry O’Kelly, one of Prof Krukowski’s friends and former colleagues, said: “He had become an intimidating character for some of our consultants, who had been appointed for less time, and doctors in training.”
Mr O’Kelly said there has been a culture shift within the medical sector in recent years, leading to clashes between staff with different personality types.
“It used to be that you were of a certain ilk or fashion, and that surgeons were of a ‘type’, but that has now changed,” he told the tribunal.
“I think people respond differently to different means of communication.
“I think there are colleagues who require an empathetic or light touch and others you can be a bit more robust with.”
One of the three employment judges presiding over the tribunal, Mary Williams Edgar, asked: “How do you deal with somebody who is perhaps ‘old school’ and a bit shouty?”
Mr O’Kelly replied: “I had conversations with him about that and I think that’s what this is about.”
He added that, while some have embraced a “mentor” role for younger medics, others have not adjusted to accommodate for more modern “attitudes and expectations” in the workplace.
NHS Grampian medical director Nick Fluck also gave evidence yesterday.
He said that Prof Krukowski’s laptop had been taken for inspection amid allegations he had breached data protection rules by collecting information about his colleague’s cases.
Dr Fluck said: “It had been partially wiped with a programme designed to destroy evidence of files being present.”
Prof Krukowski’s representative Russell Bradley questioned whether correct procedures had been followed during the disciplinary process.
He said that, rather than being given a list of specific allegations with examples, Prof Krukowski was left to comb through “hundreds” of pages of investigation reports – with his solicitor “repeatedly” asking for more information over several months.
But Dr Fluck said the process had been fair, with all of the necessary information having been supplied.
The tribunal continues.