By Jack Dixon
An award-winning nurse set himself alight outside Kensington Palace only hours after being let out of a mental health unit, an inquest has heard.
Amin Abdullah went into a spiral of depression after he was dismissed from his dream job at Charing Cross Hospital for supporting a colleague following a complaint from a patient.
Despite being under observation, Mr Abdullah was let out of the mental health unit on February 9 last year.
Four hours later he torched himself outside the London home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Westminster Coroners Court heard.
Mr Abdullah, who feared being struck off, had already tried to kill himself with an overdose of steroids and his mother had also set herself alight when he was just three years old.
His partner, Terry Skitmore, 62, criticised the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust for sacking him for what it admitted was a “foolish mistake” and then taking too long over the disciplinary process.
Disciplinary proceedings started when a patient complained about a colleague in September and Mr Abdullah was one of 17 people to sign a petition in her support.
He also wrote a draft letter she could use in her appeal, which was shared among staff, denying his nursing colleague was “lazy and unfriendly” and saying the patient was a serial complainer.
He was dismissed for gross misconduct on December 21.
Malaysian-born Mr Abdullah was treated for depression and suicidal thoughts at St Charles Hospital in Ladbroke Grove while awaiting his appeal.
But two days before the hearing, at around 8.30pm, he was allowed to leave alone so he could buy new clothes to meet his Royal College of Nursing union representative the next day.
His charred body was found by police outside the palace at around 3am on February 9 last year.
Giving evidence, Mr Skitmore said: “What I wanted was the trust to acknowledge what they had done so they could change things for the future so it doesn’t happen to someone else again, but no one was willing to do that.
“The trust have always refused, then and now, to have an investigation into the details.
“The trust has apologised but that’s just an organisation, it means nothing to me. I want an apology from the people who conducted the investigation.”
In the letter, sent to Mr Abdullah less than a month before he died, his superior admitted Mr Abdullah’s actions were merely a “foolish mistake” but upheld the disciplinary decision.
Mr Skitmore claims staff are hounded by the NHS in its disciplinary procedures.
The grandfather of two said: “The ACAS guidelines which say the process should be done as quickly as possible were ignored.
“They let it drag on for 10 weeks and he became colossally depressed.
“He was very shy and was bullied as a child at the orphanage and so any threat would make him very worried.
“He was very proud of what he achieved, getting his degree in his second language and being promoted in record time to band six.
“To be disciplined in what I have since discovered wasn’t even a disciplinary matter and to then be ignored for so long caused him to do what he did.”
In court, Mr Skitmore held up a picture of him and Mr Abdullah smiling and sitting on the beach in Spain just seven months before he died.
He added: “He was so caring and dedicated, he lived for his patients.”
Mr Abdullah, of Notting Hill, was raised in an orphanage and moved to the UK in 2003 before becoming a British citizen.
He won the Hannah Evans Award for Excellence when he graduated with a nursing degree from Buckinghamshire New University.