A whistleblowing nurse who was fired after allegedly making ‘racist’ comments has won compensation.
The experienced Navigo nurse raised concerns about the safety of patients after Nigerian staff were hired, claiming that they were force-feeding patients and falling asleep on shift.
Susan Brannan was dismissed after claims she had complained that she was “the only white on shift” and other racial remarks.
However, an employment tribunal found that key witnesses hadn’t been interviewed when she appealed.
Brannan worked on the Konar mental health suite at Diana, Princess of Wales hospital in Grimsby.
She had been a registered nurse for 25 years and had worked for not-for-profit social enterprise Navigo for nine years.
An employment tribunal heard that she became worried about the competence of new staff from Nigeria in 2019.
She claimed that there was unrest on the ward, and the deteriorating care meant she wouldn’t have wanted her own parents to be there.
She claims that on one occasion she had to stop a new nurse from feeding a service user who didn’t want food.
She reported her concerns to senior leaders in Navigo several times.
However, three colleagues complained that Brannan’s behaviour towards new nurses was making them uncomfortable.
One complaint says that Brannan remarked that a shift was like “spot the white person”, and said “we need to stick together” against the new nurses.
On other occasions, she reportedly complained about NHS money being spent hiring staff from overseas.
She denies all of these claims, and says they were retaliation for her whistleblowing.
The tribunal heard that the statements became more offensive as she became more frustrated with the working conditions.
Brannan was suspended in September 2019 for making racist comments.
She was later fired, and lost her appeal.
However, an employment tribunal found that while the company had grounds for firing her, the appeal was not handled properly.
Evidence from missing witnesses could have meant that less severe disciplinary measures would have been appropriate.
It concludes: “The claimant was a nurse devoted to good patient care and had enjoyed a long career as a Registered Nurse. It was clear in how she presented that the way in which her employment had ended with the respondent has and continues to cause her considerable hurt.
“The claimant, more so than other colleagues, was resistant to the arrival of the new nurses and the changes.
“Her language and attitude, the tribunal find, became divisive and her resentment over the money being spent and what she saw as the impact on opportunities for existing staff, negatively affected her perception of the new nurses and this was exhibited in the ‘them and us’ language she was using.”
Brannan was given only half of basic award normally given to people who have been unfairly dismissed.
Navigo has been contacted for comment.