Socialist Worker

'Stand up to bullying in the NHS’ says sacked Whipps Cross union rep Charlotte Monro

Charlotte Monro, a Unison union rep and health worker, was sacked earlier this month. She spoke to Sadie Robinson

Issue No. 2387

Trade unionists march to defend Whipps Cross Hospital

Trade unionists march to defend Whipps Cross Hospital (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Charlotte had worked at Whipps Cross Hospital in east London for 26 years. It’s now part of Barts NHS Health Trust—and recent reports highlighted a culture of bullying there.

Charlotte told Socialist Worker, “The culture of bullying comes from the top. Bullying was a big issue that staff were talking to me about when I was at Whipps Cross.

“For example, clinical staff being critical of the direction taken by the service in a meeting were told later they shouldn’t be critical and then found their career directly affected.

“Or senior ward nursing staff being told they are being negative when raising concerns such as staffing levels.”

Bosses have rammed through a series of attacks on jobs and conditions—and Charlotte said this helped them get away with their bullying,

“So many staff have had to compete for their jobs,” she said. “It’s a frightening situation. You think, if I say what is happening is wrong, that could affect the decision as to whether I get the job or not.”

Impact

The merger of several hospitals to form Barts trust four years ago had a big impact.

“Things definitely changed after the merger” she said. “The agenda from the trust is they want to save millions of pounds. They have downbanded hundreds of staff.”

Bosses victimised Charlotte after she spoke out against the cuts in the trust. She felt this was linked to trying to stifle resistance to them.

“It’s no coincidence that two weeks before the financial turnaround was announced, they began disciplinary action against an experienced union rep,” she said.

“One of the main allegations was that I brought the trust into disrepute by 

providing inaccurate information to a scrutiny committee.

“I’d simply expressed the concerns that staff had. In the past I’ve spoken at scrutiny committees, public meetings, been on marches and been very critical of the trust.

“Never before had it been said that a trade union rep should not be doing this.”

Charlotte said her sacking could set a dangerous precedent.

Punishment

“Section 146 of the Trade Union Act says people should not be made to suffer detriment to deter them or as punishment for trade union activity.

“But that’s what happened to me. They have tried to introduce an element of threat and fear into being an effective trade unionist. 

“If the trust happens not to like the actions or position of a union rep they can just state their actions are ‘personal conduct’ and seek to discipline them. That is unacceptable.”

Despite bosses’ attacks on her Charlotte said it is still possible to fight back.

“It’s really horrible and devastating when you go through something like this,” she said. “But the thing to hold onto is the support from other people and the knowledge that what they are doing to you is wrong.

“One lesson is don’t be intimidated. People need to be able to speak up. 

“The more that things are brought out into the open and discussed, the harder it is for them to bully you.”


Two year old dies as A&E closed

A two year old boy died after his mother rushed him to hospital to find its A&E department had closed.

Muhammad Hashir Naveed’s mother Maryam took him to Chase Farm Hospital in north London in the early hours on Wednesday of last week.

But the doors to the A&E were locked.

Maryam contacted a nurse using an emergency telephone outside the building who then rang for an ambulance.

Hashir was pronounced dead after being taken five miles to the nearest casualty department at North Middlesex Hospital.

One friend of the family Waleed Mirza said Hashir may have survived if not for the half hour delay caused by going to Chase Farm.

The NHS trust that runs Chase Farm has launched an investigation. Chase Farm’s A&E department closed last month.


Tories bash GPs

An overwhelming number of GPs think the Tories are criticising them to further their political agenda.

Some 94 percent agreed that “GPs are being unfairly criticised for political purposes” in a poll for the Guardian newspaper last week.

One GP complained of “endless GP-bashing”. Others said they were  “political scapegoats”.


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