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NHS staff protest over sacked nurse, Karen Reissmann

Thousands of NHS staff have taken part in a day of action to support a nurse who was allegedly sacked after speaking out against cuts in services.

Unison said some workers conducted protests wearing gags to symbolise the plight of Karen Reissmann, from Manchester.

The psychiatric nurse was dismissed last month after being found guilty of gross misconduct by Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust.

Ms Reissmann has now started an appeal against her sacking.

Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said: "Karen has been treated disgracefully by the trust.

"It is a sad day for democracy when a nurse can be sacked from her job for speaking out against damaging healthcare cuts.

"Karen has been a nurse for 25 years and, unbelievably, on the same day she was suspended, she was also promoted by the trust.

"Manchester Health and Social Care Trust is in crisis - a fact that the public have a right to know.

"It is officially in turnaround and has to make £3m more cuts this year. Mental health is already a Cinderella service and these cuts will be extremely damaging for patients in the Manchester area."

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Manchester Health and Social Care Trust

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"Strike action should be taken against doctor. Special arrangement should be made 4 the safety of nurses and doctor's degree MBBS should also dismiss" - Sara

"I just would like to say that Ms Reissmann spoke out against such cuts because they have an effect on her working standards that every nurse had to achieve when on training. She was clearly upset someone in position of power who does not understand much about care, except managing money. I  think that the union should fight this and the goverment should provide strong recomendations so that such incompetence would be reprimanded as well." - Name and address supplied

"It's important that nurses feel able to speak out if they have concerns about patient care. Three years ago I was dismissed from a respiratory practice nurse job for high spending on preventive medication. No one looked at the care pathway for reductions in hospitalisation due to better preventive care.  I successfully appealed and later wrote up the experience  - see Gleeson C (2006).  Quality improvement cost me my job.
Nursing Standard, 20, 26, 24.  The need for nurses to have a voice in clinical governance is also discussed elsewhere - see Vere-Jones E (2007). The whistle-blowing dilemmaNursing Times 103, 30, 16-17.  I don' t know the details of Karen's case but hope she will pursue the appeal and I wish her all the best with it" - Name and address supplied

"I have been a practicing nurse for 30 years, and now find the way cut backs are affecting the care of patients and standards in nursing practice. I am horrified to read about the plight of Ms Reissmann, if the nurses cannot be the advocates of our patients, what is the future of nursing? Nurses being responsible for our actions in practice should go hand-in-hand with being able to speak out and protect the care we are to give. Is nursing becoming more of a business than patient care, and when are the healthcare cuts going to end? - Naana Lim, Howden, E.Yorks

"People who work with patients/clients are the only ones who know the pressure of work so, it has to be heard, and freedom of speech should be there in any profession" - Name and address supplied

"This is typical of the current approach to people who are passionate about defending the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves. I feel that the current "whistle blower" policy is a way of Trusts putting staff off alerting the general public to what is really going on in the NHS. Something desperately needs to be done to reverse this policy. I feel heartily sorry for Karen, she obviously cares deeply, and I wish her well with her appeal - Name and address supplied