Concerns over the management of the region's NHS have been highlighted at an extraordinary employment tribunal involving some of its most senior bosses which saw one described as "finding the truth an alien concept".

The 12-day hearing was held to investigate claims by a manager, Clive Rennie, that he had been constructively dismissed from his role during a major NHS restructuring process.

What emerged was a scathing insight into the culture of the Norfolk and Waveney clinical commissioning group (CCG) - the powerful body previously responsible for the provision of all local health services - with damning criticism of some of those in charge.

Judge Robin Postle, who oversaw the tribunal, described two of them as being "disingenuous and unconvincing" in a coruscating attack on the way the internal dispute had been handled.

In his tirade, Judge Postle took particular aim at John Webster, the organisation's £135k director of strategy and transformation, and Steve Stavrinou, head of HR and business partners at a specialist NHS HR organisation involved in the reorganisation.

He said Mr Webster's evidence to the tribunal was "very much like the tide coming in and out when he realised he was caught out" and described Mr Stavrinou as "a man who finds the truth an alien concept".

The judge, who ruled in favour of Mr Rennie, was so struck by the way the NHS had handled the dispute and the evidence of the managers that he has called for an investigation and possible disciplinary action.

"Quite frankly, the behaviour of the respondents being a public body should be further investigated and those responsible face disciplinary action," he said.


Eastern Daily Press: Clive RennieClive Rennie (Image: Archant)

The tribunal was held after Mr Rennie, assistant director of integrated commissioning (mental health and learning disabilities), and Ann-Louise Schofield, head of mental health transformation, claimed they had been constructively dismissed from their posts at the CCG, during the restructuring process which would see it replaced with NHS Norfolk and Waveney.

At an early stage of the process, the two individuals were earmarked for a new, single post with a £75,914 starting salary: head of mental health transformation.

Mr Rennie then reached an agreement with Mr Webster that he would receive redundancy and Miss Schofield would be offered the role.

Mr Rennie agreed to take part in an interview for the post after being reassured it was part of a "process" and that the agreement would remain unchanged.

But following the interviews, Mr Rennie was offered the job, which he declined, while Miss Schofield was put up for redundancy.

Mr Rennie tendered his resignation the day before Miss Schofield's redundancy period was up.


Eastern Daily Press: County Hall in Norwich, where NHS Norfolk and Waveney is basedCounty Hall in Norwich, where NHS Norfolk and Waveney is based (Image: Sarah Cocke)

The NHS agreed at a preliminary hearing that Miss Schofield had been unfairly dismissed, so the tribunal focused on Mr Rennie's case.

The judge ruled that he had been constructively dismissed, with an extraordinary broadside at the CCG.

In his report, the judge highlighted a number of incidents in the row which he called to be further investigated.

These included:

  • An investigation by Mr Stavrinou into a grievance Mr Rennie lodged being altered to rule more favourably on the organisation.
  • A denial that a draft version of the investigation was ever produced.
  • An exchange between Mr Webster and Jo Yellon, assistant director of mental health, which referred to "managing out" Miss Schofield.
  • A "conspiracy" occurring between senior figures to delay Mr Rennie's departure to prevent Miss Schofield from being offered the job.


Judge Postle levelled a flurry of criticism towards Mr Webster and Mr Stavrinou.

He said: "Mr Webster admitted under cross-examination that his witness statement had been written for him and did not seem to have read it.

"His evidence was very much like the tide coming in and out when he realised he was caught out.

"We then have Mr Stavrinou. It is staggering he would sit in the back of the tribunal and hear the solicitors on a number of occasions confirm no draft report existed when all the time he was aware of draft reports he prepared himself.

"Mr Stavrinou is a man who finds the truth an alien concept, clearly.

"In relation to both Mr Rennie and Miss Schofield, the tribunal found them consistent, reliable and honest in their evidence throughout.

"Quite frankly, the behaviour of the respondents being a public body should be further investigated and those responsible face disciplinary action"



Neither Mr Webster nor Mr Stavrinou have been employed by NHS Norfolk and Waveney since the organisation was founded in July 2022.

Mr Webster is currently deputy chief executive of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Stavrinou was working for NHS Arden and Gem at the time, which local NHS organisations outsourced HR services to.



A spokesman for NHS Norfolk and Waveney, which has its headquarters at County Hall, said: "We fully accept the findings of this tribunal and sincerely apologise to both individuals for their experiences and for the added stress and anxiety in bringing the case to court.

"We are committed to providing a supportive working environment where all of our employees are treated fairly.

"As an organisation, we continue to review our workforce practices and will consider the learning from this tribunal."