A group of nurses on strike over the dismissal of a colleague have been told they will be reported to the NMC if they refuse to return to work immediately.
Around 150 staff at Manchester Health and Social Care Trust have been on continuous strike action since 8 November, after community psychiatric nurse and Unison branch secretary Karen Reissmann was dismissed for gross professional misconduct for allegedly undermining the trust in the press.
The striking nurses say the trust is attempting to ‘gag’ staff and plan to continue their strike action until Ms Reissmann is reinstated.
But trust chief executive Sheila Foley, herself a former nurse, told a board meeting last week that the staff were breaching their code of conduct and would be reported to the NMC if they did not return to work immediately.
‘Those nurses on strike have made the decision that support for their ex-colleague is more important than providing care for their patients,’ she said.
‘I have been a nurse for most of my working life. I am glad I am no longer on the register,
as I would not wish to be associated with the complete disregard that has been shown to users and carers by the striking Unison members,’ she added.
However, Val Midson, a CPN at the trust, said Ms Foley’s comments were inflammatory and had made other, non-striking staff very angry.
‘If Sheila Foley believes the way to win hearts and minds over this dispute is to report dedicated staff to professional bodies then she’s really out of touch,’ she told NT.
Ms Reissmann has already been reported to the NMC, because it is trust procedure to report all staff who have been dismissed for gross professional misconduct.
An NMC spokesperson said: ‘As members of a trade union, nurses are entitled to take industrial action provided that such industrial action is legal and due notice has been provided to the employer.’
He added that, if due notice had been given, it was the responsibility of the employer to provide necessary cover to ensure that patient care was adequate.