A nurse who worked at Glennie House care home in Ayrshire has been awarded £23,000 at tribunal. The decision comes after fifty-two year old Karen Hainey revealed that conditions in the South-West Scotland home, which cares for cancer and dementia sufferers, left patients malnourished and living in unsatisfactory conditions.
Her revelations led to three senior members of staff and two managers getting dismissed from the Countrywide Care Homes organisation that Glennie House is owned by. The revelations also led to an inspection of the company, which resulted in the home receiving the lowest grades possible in regards to several key area of care, including staffing, care quality and leadership, although, the home was cleared of negligence in regards to a case of a patient who choked to death.
Exposed as a whistleblower
The managing director of Glennie House revealed Ms Hainey to be the whistleblower, which led to her being targeted by fellow staff who made unwarranted complains against her; an experience she likens to a ‘witch hunt from start to end’.
Ms Hainey was then dismissed from her position without a thorough analysis of her case being conducted. Countrywide Care Homes also reported their version of Ms Hainey’s conduct to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, thereby discrediting her further throughout the medial profession.
The complains brought against Ms Hainey included incidents in which she allegedly swore at other members of staff and lost her temper with a resident. Within weeks she was suspended and later dismissed.
Ruling in the claimant’s favour
However, at the tribunal employment judge Lucy Wiseman didn’t believe the veracity of these complaints and condemned the actions of Countrywide Care Homes. Ruling in favour of Ms Hainey, she said ‘Countrywide Care Homes consciously took the decision to dismiss the claimant because she had made a protected disclosure, which had caused trouble for the respondent.”
The tribunal ruled that Glennie House overlooked sufficient evidence that showed the complaints made against the claimant were an act of revenge against for whistleblowing. The anonymity of a whistleblower should be protected at all times, thereby making Ms Hainey’s managing director at fault for revealing her identity.
Ms Hainey explained her stance on the case:
“I did what I thought was right and reported this to the council. I had a duty of care and in the end what I reported was upheld […] It’s taken two years to get this decision, two years to prove it was a set-up from the beginning […] My bosses were convinced I was guilty from the start, from the moment the allegations were made to the final appeal, it didn’t matter what I said, they weren’t going to listen. They wanted me out and that was it.”
Countrywide Care Homes will appeal the ruling and have issued a response to the ruling:
“We are very disappointed with the outcome of the employment tribunal however we cannot comment on the particular case as we are currently appealing the judgement decision which we do not agree with […] We have policies and procedures in place to encourage whistleblowing”
Countrywide Care Homes also pointed out that they have now undertaken a number of initiatives within the organisation that has resulted in better reports from investigative bodies.