An MP has said he would back an independent inquiry into the case of an experienced nurse who left the profession after a minor error was “turned into a mountain”.
Supporters of retired community psychiatric nurse Ingra Kirkland claim her life has been “ruined” and her reputation destroyed by unfounded allegations and “bullying”, which led to her leaving her job at Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust.
“There are some quite serious allegations that have been made about internal procedures”
Ms Kirkland had been employed by the trust for about 20 years when she was accused of being involved in record keeping anomalies and subjected to a lengthy internal investigation, as previously reported by Nursing Times in August.
However, the Betrayed By Her Trust group, which has been campaigning to clear Ms Kirkland’s name claims she did little more than warn a fellow nurse she had forgotten to record an injection and advise her to correct the omission.
Ms Kirkland subsequently accepted a retirement deal and signed a compromise agreement, but the campaign group – made up of friends and family – has continued to push for a public inquiry into the way she was treated and various concerns about internal procedures at the trust.
Conservative MP for Wyre Forest Mark Garnier has looked into the case and said he would back an independent inquiry.
“I can’t be sure there is no risk to the people I represent from this particular trust,” he said. “There are some quite serious allegations that have been made about internal procedures and, ultimately, that could translate one way or another into patient safety.
“I have advised the campaign group to write to the Secretary of State saying they want this investigated and I have said that I will support that – another formal independent review which at least shines the sunlight onto this whole case.”
Ex local independent MP and former consultant Dr Richard Taylor – co-leader of the National Health Action Party – also maintained Ms Kirkland had been hard done by. “It was a minor error that has been exaggerated out of all sense, converting a molehill into a mountain,” he told Nursing Times.
“I wish I knew quite how it had escalated so far,” he said. “There ought to be a way of settling it once and for all and maybe if we could get an independent group to look at it that would be the best outcome.”
He said the case was yet another example of the “absolutely useless” NHS complaints process and called for the introduction of a system like the one in New Zealand where both patients and staff can access independent, impartial advice to help resolve disputes.
A spokeswoman for Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust said: “The circumstances that relate to this involve a confidential HR matter regarding a former employee of the trust. As such it would not be appropriate for the trust to provide any further comment.”