Three nurses who claimed they were victimised after blowing the whistle at an NHS trust have appealed against a ruling that their employers acted fairly.
Jennie Fecitt, Annie Woodcock and Felicity Hughes claimed NHS Manchester failed to protect them after they reported a male nurse to managers for exaggerating his qualifications.
Ms Fecitt said she became the victim of a “witch hunt” and was threatened with having her house burned down after they accused Daniel Swift, a fellow nurse, of only having the qualifications needed to treat children and not adults.
She said she suffered a “character assassination” while her daughter took an anonymous phone call warning their house would be set alight unless the complaint was dropped.
Ms Fecitt and Ms Woodcock were eventually transferred, despite their objections, from the walk-in centre in Wythenshawe, south Manchester, while Ms Hughes saw her “hours were reduced to zero”.
The nurses took NHS Manchester to an employment tribunal last September, claiming the trust acted unfairly and they were justified in making their complaint.
The panel, sitting in Manchester, said it was “entirely satisfied that it was appropriate” for the women to raise concerns about Mr Swift since he stated “untruths” about his qualifications and experience.
But it also found bosses acted because of a “dysfunctional environment” at the walk-in centre and not because they had blown the whistle on Mr Swift.
On Friday, at the Employment Appeal Tribunal in London, the nurses appealed against this aspect of the tribunal’s ruling.
Their barrister, Daniel Barnett, claimed the original ruling was incorrect and they were victims of discrimination as a result of deciding to break cover about their colleague’s alleged lack of qualifications.
The appeal panel’s decision is expected in the next three to four months.
Whatever the outcome of the appeal, the case is expected to set a legal precedent on the lengths that bosses can go to when an employee blows the whistle.
The nurses said they hope it will “set a line in the sand” about employers’ “duty of care” to whistleblowers.