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Comments Off on NHS Trust Cleared Over Claims Nurse Was Bullied For IT Security Concerns

NHS Trust Cleared Over Claims Nurse Was Bullied For IT Security Concerns

Posted by Admin | July 3, 2017 | IT Security

A psychiatric nurse who claimed she was bullied by NHS managers for speaking out about IT failures has lost an employment tribunal.

Stacey Richardson said she was subjected to numerous punishments by employers the Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW) for raising the alarm about flaws in the IT system.

Last month Mrs Richardson told a tribunal in North Shields that she had made a public interest disclosure to her line manager after IT issues “forced” her to let another member of staff use her login to complete a patient assessment.

She says that she was punished as a result, including being “humiliated” during a meeting with her line manager and having a holiday request refused.

The trust, which looks after mental health services in the North East, had denied the allegations.

Now an employment tribunal has dismissed Mrs Richardson’s claim, saying there is no evidence the trust was trying to “silence” her over the IT problems.

The tribunal at North Shields County Court heard that in March 2016 Mrs Richardson was working as a mental health liaison nurse at the newly opened Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, in Cramlington.

The hearing was told Mrs Richardson and another nurse had assessed a patient together during a shift in March 2016.

Towards the end of Mrs Richardson’s shift, the second nurse was unable to login to the system, and Mrs Richardson agreed she could complete the report using her login details when she went home.

The next day Mrs Richardson raised the issue with her line manager, Joanne Sharp.

She told the tribunal she had raised the issue as a public interest disclosure and was concerned patients were being put at risk and their confidentiality breached as a result of staff sharing logins when the system was down.

Mrs Richardson claimed the practice was widespread, although the Trust has denied this.

A report by the tribunal panel has rejected the claim, saying, “It is clear from the claimant’s evidence that she knew she was acting in breach of the respondent’s policy on information security by leaving her login open.

“We find that this was the reason the claimant was upset and her main reason for contacting Ms Sharp that evening was to absolve herself of any wrongdoing.”

Yunus Bakhsh, representing Mrs Richardson, claimed at the tribunal she was punished for “being the first employee not to just ‘put up and shut up’ with the faulty IT system”, saying she was “interrogated” at a meeting with Ms Sharp, refused a holiday request and permission to attend a conference.

But dismissing the claim, judge Pamela Arullendran said: “The claimant is clearly unhappy with the findings that Ms Sharp had not bullied/harassed her and that there had not been a breach of the information security policy by other workers, as alleged by the claimant.

“However, there is no evidence at all that the respondent was trying to silence the claimant and that their findings were materially influenced by her alleged disclosure.

“Whilst the NHS can be criticised for its lack of robust IT systems, particularly given national event in recent weeks with ransomeware attacks on their IT systems, it is not for this Tribunal to assess the quality of this Trust’s IT systems.

“We note that the Trust had placed it’s IT problems on a risk register well before the events on 13 March 2016 and that the issue with staff from the south of the region accessing their emails at the Trust had been largely resolved by the date of this hearing.”

Mrs Richardson’s representative Mr Bakhsh confirmed they were looking into appealing the decision.

Source: chroniclelive

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