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Nurse death not linked to bullying


An inquest into the suicide of a Bolton nurse who said she was bullied by colleagues shortly before she hanged herself has found “no direct link” between her claims and her death.

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In a suicide note left by Margaret Gettins shortly before her death in January, she claimed she had been the victim of name-calling from fellow nurses and staff at Royal Bolton Hospital.

The note was discovered by her husband, Chris, a senior manager at the hospital, who revealed that she had raised concerns about being called “unpleasant” names while on duty at a new ward, but that she had never approached her ward superior to address the problem.

The inquest also heard that Mrs Gettins, 50, kept a diary in which she recorded her problems at work.

Despite the details in the note, her conversations with Mr Gettins and the contents of her diary, the inquest found “no direct link” between her claims that she was bullied by colleagues and her suicide.

Bolton deputy coroner Alan Walsh recorded a verdict that Mrs Gettins took her own life while the balance of her mind was disturbed, rightly or wrongly, by her issues with the hospital and also a nursery which she had written about in her diaries.

In a lengthy statement following the hearing, a spokeswoman for Royal Bolton Hospital expressed sympathy on behalf of the hospital but admitted there were “further issues” that needed to be reviewed following the decision.

“We were very shocked to hear about the sad death of Mrs Gettins, who was a very caring and committed nurse, and we have sent our condolences to Mr Gettins and his family,” she said.

“Based on information made available to us by the police and coroner following Mrs Gettins’s death, the trust carried out, at the request of the coroner, a review of the ward environment Mrs Gettins worked on.

“We can confirm that, based on the information that was provided to us by the coroner, no direct link was established between the issues raised and the sad death of Mrs Gettins. However, there were further issues reviewed and these are ongoing, but there is still no causal link to Mrs Gettins. If further information is now made available to the trust following the inquest, we would include this as part of the review.”


Readers' comments (24)

  • I agree with K white and J Fagan.

    I urge all Nurse who are being bullied to contact CAUSE and they will in turn pass you on to relevant colleagues who have been through or are going through the same thing with their Trusts. I reported bad practise and ended up with 6 years worth of allegations that I knew nothing about that I had to answer to. Trusts will go to any lengths to vilify an individual, relying on the fact they have all the money in the world to get rid of you. My Trust has continued to hound me despite the fact the NMC threw the case out on the day it was read. Some 833 pages of disgusting hearsay, opinion and utter rot was sent to the NMC and I had a 14 year unblemished service with one annual appraisal, no clinical supervision, no evaluation of my practise and I was continualy left in charge of the ward. Documents have been altered and my former colleagues statements were severely inconsistent. No legislation was followed, nor policy and procedure. For those lucky enough not to have been bullied in their environment, then good for you, but please do not say that everyone jumps on the "bullying" bandwagon, because you have no idea what your're talking about. Trusts no longer want good nurses, they want nurses who will keep their heads down and mouths shut, or else. Trusts promote a climate of fear and encourgae individuals to speak against colleagues and they are more than willing to do it because they are afraid for their own careers and salary.

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  • Yes Alice, that's it in a nutshell. Senior managers do not like competent nurses. Bullies do not like competent colleagues. No surprise then that managers are happy to support and promote the bullies.
    What is the solution?
    A first step would be for unions to support their members instead of colluding with corrupt managers and (so called)Human Resources.
    The next step would be for HR to act with integrity instead of rubber stamping the incompetence and corruption of senior managers.
    I took out a grievance in 2002. I described shocking malpractice to the senior manager hearing my grievance. His response was " do you know how serious it will be for you if it can be proved that you are lying" Stranger still, the senior RCN Officer ( supposedly representing me) did not hear him saying that. Need I say more!!
    My next step was an Employment Tribunal. The RCN provided a lawyer for me, but 48 working hours before the hearing withdrew that lawyer. I was confident enough to present my own case. Result- The Trust paid out a large sum to settle out of Tribunal. This is common practice and a blatant misuse of NHS money that should go into patient care.

    Yes, many trusts no longer want good nurses. They want those who will keep their mouths and eyes shut.
    Why? Too many senior managers do not understand healthcare. This is understandable, since understanding it could affect their future inflated salaries and pensions.
    This would not be happening if our unions acted with integrity.

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  • Lets put the bullying issue to one side for just a moment......
    If we cannot recognise distress, unhappiness, ill-being and 'dis-ease' in the people that we work with and do something about it.... how on earth are we going to be able to recognise it in the people we are supposed to be caring for?!!!
    I would be devastated if I found out that one of my colleagues felt so low that her only option was to take her own life, and I had neither seen this or done anything about it.
    As a profession we should be ashamed!

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  • Putting aside the management who bully. What about the Union reps who are supposedly there for nurses? We pay good money for years but if you are unfortunate to need their help, they prefer to 'scratch the managers and HR's backs. The worst is if you are supported by a Union rep who is also a colleague of the same organisation. They would have made personal friends among the managers and HR. The so called support that they give you becomes a stabbing in the dark. What is the solution to this horror for nurses, seeing that too many nurses' career and lives are damaged by these so called Union reps.

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