Bullied KGH nurse forced to quit

Former Kettering General Hospital employee Andrea Austen, from Warkton, has won compensation after she was bullied at work
Former Kettering General Hospital employee Andrea Austen, from Warkton, has won compensation after she was bullied at work

A senior nurse with 46 years of experience has won a constructive dismissal case against Kettering General Hospital.

Andrea Austen, 65, resigned from her post in March 2011 after hospital management failed to deal satisfactorily with an incident in which she had been confronted by theatre manager Andrew Havers.

She had claimed she was constructively dismissed because the hospital trust failed to take adequate steps to prevent the bullying taking place and did not offer her enough support after she made a complaint.

An employment tribunal in Leicester published its judgement in August this year, in which it upheld Mrs Austen’s complaints, saying she was constructively and unfairly dismissed.

It also said the hospital trust had failed to take adequate steps to support Mrs Austen’s return to work and had expected her again to work alongside Mr Havers, who received a final written warning from the hospital which expired after 12 months.

Mrs Austen, who was 62 at the time of her dismissal and had worked at the hospital for 46 years, was awarded the statutory maximum in compensation and lost wages.

She said: “I felt I could have worked for several more years, and I was planning to do so.

“The staff were told not to contact me after the incident.

“Consequently I lost contact with my friends and colleagues from the hospital.”

In its judgement, the tribunal panel described Mrs Austen as having an impeccable record.

It added: “Her work ethic, professionalism and skills have been acknowledged by the various doctors she has worked for in the testimonies which we have seen.”

Mrs Austen said: “I had 46 years at Kettering General Hospital, more than 40 of them in the operating suite, preparing and assisting thousands of patients with various surgical procedures, and did this without incident.”

Her lawyer Glenn Robinson, from Lamb & Holmes Solicitors in Kettering, said the tribunal’s judgement was clear-cut.

He added: “Every single area of her claim was found in her favour.

“This is about as overwhelmingly in favour of one party as you are going to see.

“I have worked in the law all my life.

“It’s not often I feel as strongly about a case that I suggest to a client they go to the press, but I have never felt so strongly that the record should be put straight.”

The hospital said it would not comment on individual cases.