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Compensation for mixed race nursing chief dismissed for being 'wrong colour and culture'

  • 9 Comments

North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust has said it has “learned many lessons” after it was ordered to pay £115,000 to a nursing chief who was told she was from the “wrong colour and culture”.

Dr Sarina Saiger was unfairly dismissed from her assistant director of nursing post at Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and the West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven, in 2008, a tribunal ruled last year.

The mixed race executive was said to have been told by the then director of nursing that she was the “wrong colour and culture” for Cumbria.

North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust denied the allegations at the tribunal and argued Dr Saiger had already made a number of complaints in the health service and had accepted compromise agreements with other trusts.

The trust apologised after she successfully claimed racial discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Yesterday, Dr Saiger was awarded £115,000 compensation and the trust was left to pay a £218,000 legal bill.

Trust chief executive Carole Heatly said: “The trust is pleased this lengthy case has come to a conclusion for all concerned and as an organisation we are now able to move on.

“Again, we would like to offer an apology to Dr Saiger for the distress that this case has caused.

“The trust has learned many lessons from this case and embedded them.

“Dr Saiger has been awarded £115,000 by the remedies hearing. She had claimed £1.3m. As this is paid by the public purse, it provides a good outcome for patient care in north Cumbria.”

A trust spokeswoman added a new chief executive and board were in place following the incident with Dr Saiger.

  • 9 Comments

Readers' comments (9)

  • Phil Dup

    Hmmmm - so she has had a number of other "compromise agreements" with other trusts - its fascinating how some people seem to have so much bad luck following them around in their jobs - and to cap it all she didnt get the 1.3 million pounds of taxpayers money she wanted - life is soooo unfair for some people - my eyes are filling with tears.

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  • As a victim of racial discrimination and victimisation at the hands of an NHS Trust, I can completely empathise with the ordeal Dr Saiger experienced. I am taking my previous employers to a tribunal too for unfair dismissal. It takes a lot of courage to take this step and I applaud Dr Saiger for pursuing North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust and holding them to account. The Chief Exec advises that the Trust has learnt from their mistakes and put measures in place to prevent a repeat of this sorry episode. Let's hope this is the case. I find the above commentator's sneering remarks offensive and ignorant. It is exactly this kind of attitude that deters many suffering discrimination from seeking justice. Once you complain, you will be victimised and seen as a troublemaker. It's time that the NHS started to take affirmative action to stamp out racial discrimination at all levels. Trust Board Executives and Senior Managers should be required to undergo training to improve their cultural competence thus eradicating ethnocentric decision-making. The commitment to Equality & Diversity must start at the top of the organisation; the Trust Board must lead by example.

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  • I am confused if this woman was seen as being the wrong colour and culture for the job why was she given the job when she applied.

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  • As a victim of racial discrimination and victimisation at the hands of an NHS Trust, I can completely empathise with the ordeal Dr Saiger experienced. I am taking my previous employers to a tribunal too for unfair dismissal. It takes a lot of courage to take this step and I applaud Dr Saiger for pursuing North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust and holding them to account. The Chief Exec advises that the Trust has learnt from their mistakes and put measures in place to prevent a repeat of this sorry episode. Let's hope this is the case. I find the above commentator's sneering remarks offensive and ignorant. It is exactly this kind of attitude that deters many suffering discrimination from seeking justice. Once you complain, you will be victimised and seen as a troublemaker. It's time that the NHS started to take affirmative action to stamp out racial discrimination at all levels. Trust Board Executives and Senior Managers should be required to undergo training to improve their cultural competence thus eradicating ethnocentric decision-making. The commitment to Equality & Diversity must start at the top of the organisation; the Trust Board must lead by example.

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  • The first comment by DP is completely ignorant, derogatory and unacceptable. It shows the calibre and mindset of the majority of those who believe that they would never be affected by racial discrimination, biases and prejudice because they are of the "correct colour and culture". Or are they? Do their cultures and colour represent what the society stands for or aspires to be? all White UK with no room for minorities?

    Dr D, I suppose took action to bring to public knowledge what goes on in the NHS and other public sector organisations, where the minority group workers are marginalised and expected to put in 1000% as compared to the "right colour and culture" people which may still not be enough met by snares and sarcasm such as DP's.

    The right colour person becomes a deputy director of nursing from being a carer (support worker) for a few years and after being a registered nurse for another few years perhaps without a degree and that is acceptable.

    Is this what we want to see persist in the NHS that so relies on foreign and overseas nurses in time of crisis with severe workforce shortages? That when it is to do with cleaning shit its okay to bring in the different "colour and culture" people?

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  • Racial discrimination does occur in the NHS. Ask me, I was taped by a colleague at work using CCTV in an attempt to secure my dismissal but I'm still standing. Just listen to handover when ethnic minority nurses are interrupted continously and for no apparent reason. How about the nurse accused of not turning a dying patient (2 hourly) when she was allocated 40 to 60 patients in a nursing home. Disgusting. How about relatives, who lie that ethnic minority nurses have not communicated with them and put in complaints against them. That happened to a colleague who was accused of showing disinterest whilst counselling a patient in a freezing room. There was no heating provided by the PCT so she was wearing her coat. (Bear in mind she had to spend most of her shift in this freezing room and patients only spent 15 minutes each in the room) The patient (assisted by the racist secretary) complained that the nurse had her coat on because she was ready to leave the session. Ethnic minority nurses are often given multitudes oftasks and denied assistance when they ask for it. They are gossiped about and reported by colleagues who drink alcohol with managers in pubs. When in charge, some nurses are subjected to sabotage or unnecessary challenging when they delegate duties. This is detrimental to patient care but those who are ignorant think they are "fixing" the nurse.Congratulations to Dr Saiger but I only wishthe £113 000 was mine so I could leave as well.

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  • Rascism is alive and kicking within the NHS l am sad to say. As a nurse of colour, l have found that when someone decides to put the boot in, so to speak, it is always backed up by the same like minded people, who, strangely enough, just happen to be of caucasian descent. Let us hope that things improve sooner rather than later!

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  • In response to anonymous 23/04/10 6:46am, i disagree with your generalisation of i quote 'it just happens to be of caucasian descent', please hear me out. I work in a hospital in Latrobe Valley, regional Victoria, Australia in an acute adult mental health unit where a lot of multicultural staff are employed mainly from african and the UK. As this is a regional hospital and is what we call the 'country', work options are limited especially in mental health as this hospital covers most of eastern, southern,central Victoria through to some parts of metropolitan. As Australians/caucasians we experience a high level of discrimination, bullying and harraassment from these other cultures on a daily basis, and unfortunately management within this facility does not listen or support us which enables these behaviours to continue. It makes me sad and annoyed at the the same time as ultimitely this impacts on our clients and it makes it seem like all the efforts ive put into studying a post grad to improve my practice only go into protecting/defending myself against the constant bullying/harrassment and deogoratory behaviours i endure on a daily basis within this environment. Management turn a blind eye as it is a regional hospital and they recieve funding for employing other cultures and unfortunately for myself and others in this work environment, i'm Australian and not supported as per managements preferences. While i do not support discrimination/bullying or harrassment in any way shape or form to anyone no matter what country/colour/background, i just wanted you to know that we as caucasian's are victims of discrimination/bullying and harrassment aswell. I dont believe what culture/colour etc you are, bully's come in all colours and cultures and jobs, such as management, and unfortunately, we the victims seem to be powerless to an extent.

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  • surely the only important criteria is the right person for the job!

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