Monday, November 05, 2007

Mental Health Managers: Madness From Start to Finish

When we pay a good whack to NHS management we have a right to expect that they (a) have a bit of nous and (b) have GCSE level or better Industrial Relations. Today the bizarre case of Karen Reissmann (right) and the Mental Health Trust she works for, based just 200 yards from the House of Love in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, took a new twist.

First, they PROMOTED her. She is a good nurse after all, with around 25 years experience.
Second, they SUSPENDED her on full pay.
Bizarrely these two events were ON THE SAME DAY.

And then Third, today, following a second three day disciplinary hearing they have SACKED her for "gross misconduct".

The offence? Speaking out locally - as a senior Unison activist - about the possible detrimental effects of specific reorganisation, and of cuts and marketisation in general, on her patients and her members.

The cure? Management suspended Karen. This in effect sent her out and about, at public expense, on a speaking tour on the matters that concerned her. Garnering great media interest. Almost 1000 hits on Google.

This really is a "boss" way of silencing or containing a "whistle blower"! There have been 14 days of strikes to date. A further strike is due to start on Thursday and continue until reinstatement.

Sheila Foley, Chief Executive told the Manchester evening News:

"All the way through this matter we have followed the correct processes. I have listened to all the evidence for six days and I have weighed up that evidence and made my decision.
"I do believe this is the right decision to take and is being taken in the best interest of the Trust and the patients we care for. Dismissal is not a decision taken lightly, is very rare and only taken when there are very serious concerns."

The Mental Health Trust Ms Foley commands – which is ranked as one of the worst in Britain, and is currently £3 million in debt – has also come in for criticism from relatives of William Scott (right with daughter Emma), a patient who died after disruption to his care.

Clearly there will be an appeal and very likely an Industrial Tribunal. Clearly Karen Reissmann will lose and win these respectively. Clearly bosses will pay any fines and exemplary damages and consider it a good bargain. Just as bosses at local college Mancat did after losing an IT on the "Mancat Five".

Madness from start to finish. Meanwhile a health whistle blower who does deserve immediate dismissal, after claiming a popular hospital was threatened with closure, is still at large in Westminster and South Manchester.

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