Union activist’s appeal against dismissal fails

A psychiatric nurse who this week lost her appeal against dismissal plans to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Karen Reissmann, who was suspended in June this year – on the same day as she was promoted – after criticising plans by the Manchester Mental Health Trust, believes its decision not to reinstate her contravenes her right to freedom of expression under European law.

Reissmann, a Unison branch secretary, said the trust had made cuts. She will be supported by the union in her bid to take the trust to employment tribunal.

Over the past three months, hundreds of trust staff have held a series of walk-outs in protest at Reissmann’s treatment.

Speaking following the decision, Reissmann told Community Care: “It’s a disgrace and a very sad decision for the health service. I worry that the message given out is that if you speak out then you too could be sacked.”

Reissmann, who has worked as a nurse for the trust for 25 years, said sections of the health service had been effectively turned into a number of small businesses, adding: “We are returning to the era where loyalty to the company is put above the patient.

“As a nurse I have a code of conduct that means I must speak out when I think things are wrong. I’m not prepared to ignore their best interests.”

But chief executive of the trust Sheila Foley, who dismissed Reissmann last month, denied she had been sacked for speaking out about cuts, saying it has been over a “private employment matter,” which she was not prepared to elaborate on.

Unison said it was “extremely disappointed” with the trust’s decision.

Steve Stott, regional operational manager for the union said: “We will be appealing to an employment tribunal against the dismissal. I want to make it clear that we will use all legal means open to us to get this decision overturned.”

Related articles
Reissman appeal brought forward to 3 December

Manchester mental health services disrupted by strike

Further information
Union seeks justice for Karen

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Sally Gillen

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