A midwife who was sacked for taking too many sick days has won an employment tribunal – and will be heading back to WORK.
Jane Greaves, 46, was sacked from Wakefield Pinderfield’s Hospital after contracting a kidney infection at work because the birthing centre didn’t have a staff toilet.
She said low staffing levels meant she was unable to leave the unit to go to the toilet, which is a two-minute walk away in another department.
Her dismissal was described by bosses at a trade union as the “most unjust” firing they have witnessed in 35 years and a petition to reinstate her receieved over 40,000 signatures.
They claim Jane had registered 49 times with bosses that she had been too busy to take a break on her 12-hour shifts.
The sacking came despite the hospital she worked at advertising job vacancies for midwives.
Single Jane, who has 16 years’ midwifery experience, fell ill on December 30 last year following a night-shift at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, West Yorks.
She was rushed to A&E on New Year’s Eve and saw a urologist who said she had not been emptying her bladder often enough “over a period of time” and had contracted a kidney infection, it was claimed.
The midwife, who qualified as a nurse in 1997 before becoming a midwife in 2002, said she was handed a seven-day sick note on January 2 this year.
Her latest bout of illness took her total number of sick days to 14 in the 12 months from January 2017 to January 2018.
Jane had been off sick with migraines caused by stress for seven days over five separate occasions.
But she was stunned when the head of midwifery told her during a disciplinary meeting that she was being sacked with immediate effect on March 15 due to her “poor sickness record”.
Speaking after her dismissal, Jane, from Wakefield, West Yorks., said: “Work is all I have got so to take it away from me is horrendous.
“It’s the best job in the world and I’ve just been in a daze, I cannot sleep and cannot think.”
Jane said when the birthing centre opened in September 2016 it had three midwives and two health carers, which has since been slashed down to just two midwives and one health carer.
She claims to have informed management at least 49 times about problems of high workload and not enough staff at the unit, which meant she has been unable to go to the toilet.
Jane said staff are given a one-hour unpaid break during their shift but because of the workload, it’s “rare” they take it.
She added: “The unit I work on does not have a staff area or staff toilet.
“You just ignore it because you know you have got to leave the unit.
“You can’t just say to a woman ‘stop pushing, I’m going for a wee.”
A petition was launched at the trust and Unison called for her reinstatement.
Describing Jane’s “unjust” dismissal, Adrian O’Malley of Unison said: “Jane’s dismissal is the most unjust I have witnessed in over 35 years as a steward at Pinderfields Hospital.
“Her record of 14 calendar days off in the last 12 months is better than the trust average and still they sacked her.
“It’s absolutely outrageous that a trust which is advertising for midwives has dismissed a dedicated member of staff of 18 years standing.”
Trudie Davies, chief operating officer, at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “As per trust policy, Miss Greaves lodged an appeal against her dismissal which was heard by a panel of senior managers within the organisation.
“After careful consideration, it was decided that the sanction applied to Miss Greaves be downgraded in order to allow her to return to work.
“In all decision making the safety of our patients remained our prime concern and it is important to us that we have a reliable workforce to provide consistent and safe care to patients.
“We look forward to Miss Greaves returning to the Trust to support this aim.”