Interview nurse appeal rejected

A nurse who was sacked for talking to the press has lost her appeal against her dismissal, but has vowed to continue fighting her case.

Karen Reissman, who worked as a senior nurse for Manchester Mental Health Care Trust, was told on Monday that her dismissal on 5 November this year for gross misconduct was justified.

Reissman, a representative for the Unison trade union, was fired for giving an interview to small business community magazine Internal Enterprise, during which she criticised the trust’s plans to outsource some nursing roles to voluntary sector groups.

She will now face an employment tribunal and plans to take her fight to the European Court of Human Rights and make her case under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to freedom of expression.

Reissman told Press Gazette: ‘I’m not prepared to give this up. Particularly as this is my name – I have been a nurse for 25 years. What I have ‘done wrong’ is stand up for patients and for services. I plead guilty to that.

‘For journalists, it is difficult to get health workers to speak on the record. It is hard for them to write the story if it is just off the record.”

Since Reissman was sacked, more than 150 of her nursing colleagues have been on indefinite strike and have staged a series of protests.

Reissman added: ‘There is a bit of me that feels that if [the trust] get away with it, that sends a particular message to health care workers that they cannot speak out against changes to services.

‘Different [health] services compete with each other and we are encouraged to see the service down the road as the opposition – so there is a willingness [for papers] not to print bad things.”

She praised local papers such as the Manchester Evening News that have followed the story as ‘fantastic”.

Internal Enterprise, which is no longer in business, had a circulation of around 2,000. Reissman had written a piece in The Observer earlier this year in which she criticised the privatisation of the NHS.

The journalist who conducted the interview, Sarah Irving, told Press Gazette last month that Reissman’s views were only sought to balance the piece, which contained views of people mostly in favour of social enterprise schemes.

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