Dr Alistair Humphrey, centre, was a medical officer of health in Canterbury for about 20 years before being fired last year.
A medical officer of health sacked for being unmanageable and alienating many of his colleagues has been reinstated to his job by the Employment Court.
Dr Alistair Humphrey, a former medical officer of health employed by the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) for about two decades, was sacked in October last year.
Earlier this month the Employment Court heard his bid to be reinstated into his role until his case claiming wrongful dismissal could be fully heard.
In a hearing last week the court was told staff in the public health unit where Humphrey worked would resign or reconsider their position if Humphrey was reinstated.
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Humphrey’s lawyer Carolyn Heaton argued at the hearing that the staff would come around if given enough information and with Humphrey’s conciliatory attitude.
The doctor told Stuff on Friday he was very pleased with the decision but had been advised to say no more.
“The decision speaks for itself,” he said.
Humphrey faced a humiliating barrage of complaints when his reinstatment bid was heard, the main one being that he had no insight into the damaging effect his manner had on people.
Heaton told Judge Christina Inglis that Humphrey’s career would suffer lasting damage if he was not reinstated, and that he needed the job to maintain his skills, reputation and professional authority.
Heaton said the longer Humphrey was absent from his workplace, the more isolated and estranged he became from the colleagues who opposed his reinstatement.
Canterbury District Health Board’s executive team fell apart last year, with seven of the 11-strong team resigning as the board faced budget challenges and potential cuts. (Video first published August 20, 2020)
Claims of bullying and harassment were unsubstantiated, she said, and it was the CDHB’s fault concerns were not properly communicated to him so he could address them.
Andrew Shaw, acting for the CDHB, told the hearing Humphrey’s fundamental problem was his fixed view that he had a special position and did not answer to CDHB managers.
Humphrey could be charming and convincing, Shaw said, but he was also adversarial and opinionated, not accepting he had a problem.