A HEART doctor who turned whistleblower to expose NHS safety fears said he felt "vindicated" after winning an unfair dismissal case following a prolonged dispute with hospital bosses.

Cardiologist Raj Mattu warned that there was insufficient protection available for whistleblowers in the NHS and said he wanted a meeting with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to discuss his concerns.

Dr Mattu publicly exposed overcrowding and fears for patient safety at Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry in 2001, claiming that there may have been avoidable deaths as a result.

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He was then "vilified and bullied" by the University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust during a years-long "witch hunt", according to his lawyers, Ashfords LLP.

Dr Mattu told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I was rather concerned that the reason I came into medicine, which was to care for patients and to hopefully save lives, was not a priority or certainly a primary aspect of what managers in the hospital in Coventry were focused on."

He said he was forced to turn whistleblower as the trust repeatedly ignored his complaints about the treatment of patients.

A year after speaking out, the £70,000-a-year doctor was suspended by the trust on full pay after being accused of bullying. He was dismissed in 2010.

Dr Mattu said that following his decision to blow the whistle, the hospital's security head was asked to monitor him and "try and find as much information to use against me as possible" in an attempt to blacken his name.

He was cleared this week of wrongdoing by Birmingham Employment Tribunal, which ruled the trust had unfairly dismissed him.