The NHS trust that runs Croydon University Hospital has won the right to appeal a damning judgment on its sacking of a whistleblower doctor, in a fresh twist in a protracted three-year legal battle.

A judge in January had previously found Croydon Health Services (CHS) had no prospect of overturning a ruling directors unfairly dismissed consultant cardiologist Kevin Beatt.

Dr Beatt was fired in 2012 after raising concerns about patient safety and bullying in the hospital's cardiac catheter unit, which he ran, following the death of a patient.

In October an employment tribunal ruled the trust had unfairly dismissed the doctor for whistleblowing and three months later a judge threw out the trust's application to appeal.

But a second judge at an Employment Appeals Tribunal last week sanctioned CHS's amended application for full appeal hearing.

FROM JANUARY: Health secretary urged to act as tribunal rejects NHS trust's appeal over unfair sacking of whisteblower

Dr Beatt said: "It's an extremely frustrating situation. Now we have to go to a two-day hearing and we don't even know what the issues are. It is just a nonsense really."

He said the trust's barristers had submitted a 460-page document criticising a judgment less than half that length.

If the trust wins the appeal, not likely to be heard for many months, the initial employment tribunal will be held again.

A hearing to establish compensation owed to Dr Beatt following October's tribunal judgment could still go ahead in June, raising the prospect of the trust paying out thousands of pounds in compensation before its appeal is heard.

The trust's legal bills for the case had reached £130,000 by the start of this year and are likely to since have far outstripped that sum after it hired a £5,000-a-day QC to work with its existing barrister.

CHS declined to discuss Dr Beatt's case beyond a 12-word statement.

A spokesman said: "Legal proceedings are not yet complete and we are pursuing the appeal."   

In a seperate development, it emerged this week that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will not conduct investigations into four former and current trust directors referred for assessment against new fit and proper person regulations.

The CQC is understood to have found insufficient evidence to substantiate allegations against the board members, although Dr Beatt said he had not been asked to provide any documents.