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Nurse awarded over £462,000 for unfair dismissal

A Senior District Nurse has been awarded over £462,000 by an Employment Tribunal for her unfair dismissal claim following a four-year legal battle. Ms Fairhall, who had 38 years of experience in the NHS, first raised concerns in 2015 about patient safety due to the pressure on resources. When a patient died in October 2016, Fairhall suggested in a meeting that the incident could have been prevented had her earlier concerns over resources been addressed. Later that month, Fairhall told a manager that she wished to begin a formal whistleblowing procedure.

In April 2018, Ms Fairhall was unfairly dismissed following a suspension that lasted 18 months over allegations of gross misconduct. She was made aware of her suspension right before she returned to work from her annual leave.

Ms Fairhall was first found to have been unfairly dismissed by an Employment Tribunal in February 2020. Employment Judge Johnson found that Fairhall’s complaints had amounted to protected disclosures. It was also found that the Hospital’s investigation into the alleged misconduct had been “inadequate and unreasonable in all the circumstances of the case” and the investigation has been designed to dismiss Fairhall because of the said protected disclosures. The University Hospital of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust unsuccessfully appealed the decision. The Employment Appeal Tribunal remitted the case back to the original Employment Tribunal to decide the compensation. In May 2022, following a two-day private remedy hearing, the Employment Tribunal awarded Fairhall £462,612.26 for unfair dismissal, loss of earnings, and interest.

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