Max Cure Hospital Exposed By Doctor Who Claims He Was Protecting His Professional Ethics

By The Weekly Vision Team

Judge Christine Baari of the Employment and Labour Relations Court, Kisumu, has ruled that Max Cure Hospitals of Kisumu unlawfully terminated the services of Dr Jigar Patel and ordered Ksh. 16 million to be awarded to him as compensation in a ruling dated November 23, 2023. The doctor claimed in court that Max Cure Hospital sacked him after he refused to carry out unnecessary medical tests on patients, ostensibly to add revenue to the hospital’s coffers.

Dr. Patel was employed by the hospital as a consultant physician for a two-year fixed-term contract through an appointment letter dated September 13, 2021. He claims that between August 30 and September 15, 2022, the management of the hospital began summoning him to multiple meetings, where he was requested to take a pay cut on the basis that the hospital was not doing well financially, a proposal he declined. When he declined the pay cut, he was issued a notice to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him through a letter dated September 15, 2022, and was dismissed without full compensation of his dues.

In an affidavit, Dr. Patel revealed that he was asked to do unnecessary tests, hospitalization, and CT-scan tests on patients to generate revenue for the hospital, but he declined because it is against the Hippocratic Oath. He further testified that his role was that of treating patients who came to the hospital and that he had no targets for tests or admissions for money generation, nor was it his duty to go out and get patients for the hospital.

Interestingly, according to Dr Patel, the day after his termination, he got a call from immigration officials telling him that he was an illegal immigrant and demanded that he fulfil the demands of the hospital to take a pay cut or risk deportation. His passport was withheld by the hospital management. However, the hospital’s management, in a quick rejoinder, claimed that Dr Patel was seeing clients privately, hence he was summarily dismissed, that he was never asked to accept a pay cut and that the discussion on the issue never arose.

Dr Patel, in a quick rejoinder, also claimed that administering unnecessary treatments or subjecting patients to unnecessary tests to make more money for the hospital would have amounted to a breach of duty as a health care provider, which goes against the Hippocratic Oath and a breach of Section 12(2) of the Health Act.

During the hearing and cross-examination, the hospital failed to offer evidence to support its allegations that Dr. Patel mistreated patients or that he provided them with private treatments at their homes, diverting the hospital’s income. It is Dr. Patel’s submission that no patient was called as a witness. The judge noted, “It is therefore my considered opinion that the respondent failed to meet the irreducible statutory minimum principles of a fair hearing, which renders the claimant’s dismissal unfair, and I so hold.”

According to the judge, “Although the Respondent denied that the Claimant was terminated for declining a salary cut, the payment of salary in bits is in itself an indication that the Respondent’s business was not doing well, and hence, the possibility that the Claimant was requested to accept a salary cut is realistic.”

The judge further noted that “the allegations by the respondent that the claimant saw patients privately, hence diminishing its revenues, were not proved. The foregoing leads me to the conclusion that the claimant’s termination did not meet the substantive fairness test.”

The court was told that upon issuance of the dismissal letter, which was to take effect immediately, the hospital’s management demanded that Dr Patel and his young family vacate the company house they occupied immediately and further surrender a company car he utilized on the same day. As if that was not enough, the hospital’s management reported Dr. Patel at the immigration department as being in the country illegally and sought that he be deported.

The final judgment reads, “This turn of events no doubt caused the claimant distress and a hell of anxiety. The shortage of doctors in this country is not so dire, and to have resolved to hire an expatriate, the respondent should have been ready to live by the terms of their contract.”In the premise, the claimant is hereby awarded Ksh. 2,500,000/- in aggravated damages.

Consequently, judgment is entered for the claimant as against the respondent as follows: a declaration that the claimant’s termination is unfair. Salaries owed for November and December 2021 and January to April 2022 at Ksh. 5,850,000/- Three months’ salary in lieu of notice at Ksh. 2,925,000/-

Costs of return air ticket at Ksh. 141,922/- 5 months’ salary as compensation for unfair termination at Kshs. 4,875,000/- Kshs. 2,500,000/- in aggravated damages.