Hospital whistleblower offered 56p compensation
A whistleblower at Southend Hospital who claimed that she had been bullied by colleagues after discussing concerns with management was offered just 56p in compensation to settle the case.
Now, health care assistant Gillian Austin, 58, is bringing a claim against Southend Hospital and is seeking £185,000 in damages following victimisation and bullying.
Mrs Austin reported a nurse for only have a 4.5 hour break between her night shift and her next shift believing that the lack of rest period could have put patients at risk. She told the East London Employment Tribunal “a whistle-blowing letter was written out of concern. I felt what she was doing was irresponsible behaviour and in the letter I described it as extremely dangerous”.
Mrs Austen told the Court that she was put before a disciplinary panel but was exonerated. She alleges that senior managers within the hospital instructed colleagues to alienate and bully her, at which time she secretly recorded conversations with colleagues in order to prove the victimisation. Mrs Austin made the point to the Employment Tribunal that “under the whistle-blowing policies, I shouldn’t have been subjected to 6 months of repercussions”.
As part of her list of grievances against the hospital, she states that she was offered a derisory settlement of just 56p. She lodged an official grievance in November 2009 and as a result an independent assessor was brought in to look at her claims. Southend Hospital contests the allegations and says that proper procedures were followed following the whistle-blowing disclosure.
The independent assessor found that the whistle-blowing procedures had not been correctly followed, but it agreed with the various outcomes of the disciplinary hearings and could find no evidence of bullying.
Mrs Austin, who still works at the hospital and earns £26,000 a year, has decided to proceed with her claim despite being warned by the Courts last year that she stood very little chance of winning and might face a significant legal bill were she to lose.