A receptionist at an NHS clinic who was petrified of patients was wrongfully dismissed, a tribunal found.

Sacramenta D’Silva received £56,684 in compensation from Croydon Health Service NHS Trust.

She suffered from public phobia and told managers at the trust’s chest clinic, which she joined in 2003, that she only wanted to work in a back office booking appointments.

But her bosses said her role was public-facing.

The tribunal heard Mrs D’Silva suffered from severe stress and anxiety, and had to take time off work.

She started a phased return after a long absence in 2017 and managers were said to be cautious not to ‘overload’ her.

Whenever the subject of working on the front desk was brought up, the receptionist became upset and explained she simply wasn’t able to perform that part of her role.

The receptionist went off sick again shortly in June 2018 after it was made clear that the job was ‘100% patient-facing’, and she was told if she was unable to do so, she would need to be re-deployed elsewhere.

A doctor from the occupational health team said she wanted to return to work but was ‘petrified’ of having to deal with patients.

He assessed Mrs D’Silva in November 2018 and described her anxiety about working in patient-facing roles as ‘public phobia’.

Mrs D’Silva’s managers decided the best option was to re-deploy her into a different role, but the tribunal found she was given insufficient support.

After being unable to find a new position she was dismissed on ‘grounds of capability’ due to ill health.

She had been on long-term absence for more than 12 months and there was said to be ‘no outlook’ for her if she came back.

Employment judge Anna Corrigan said the trust failed to make reasonable adjustments to keep Mrs D’Silva at work and ruled she was unfairly dismissed.

Her claims of disability related harassment and victimisation were dismissed.

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