Nurse who spoke out settles with NHS trust

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A nurse agreed an out-of-court settlement today with the NHS trust which fired her for speaking publicly about her fears over privatisation.

Karen Reissmann had claimed unfair dismissal by her employers, Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, who sacked her for gross misconduct.

Both parties reached a private agreement midway through her employment tribunal hearing.

Ms Reissmann, a community psychiatric nurse with more than 25 years of experience in the field, was suspended in June 2007 after an interview she gave to a trade magazine which criticised the transfer of NHS services to the voluntary sector.

The trust found the Unison branch representative guilty of gross misconduct over her comments and she was sacked in November 2007, which prompted a month-long strike by colleagues.

Announcing settlement of the case, Paul Gilroy QC, representing the trust, said: "Karen Reissmann was dismissed by Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust for gross misconduct for matters unrelated to clinical practice.

"The parties are satisfied that the dispute between the parties has been resolved and the Employment Tribunal procedures are at an end by agreement being reached at their mutual satisfaction.

"No further comment will be made by either parties in this matter."

Tribunal chairman Michael Coles said: "This case did involve allegations of inappropriate comments to the press. It is important that the tribunal, by reason of settlement, has made no finding whatsoever whether the allegation of gross misconduct was made out.

"There has been a great deal of effort put into this resolution by both parties and their representatives. It would be a tragedy if that matter is undermined by any comment."

No details of the private agreement were revealed to the press although it is understood Ms Reissmann will not be returning to work at the trust - as she had wished.

Following the hearing in Manchester, Alec McFadden, president of Merseyside TUC, which has supported Ms Reissman throughout the dispute, said: "Karen starts a new life from here.

"We are pleased it has been resolved. Each side appears happy with the agreement.

"Hopefully Karen will be able to get a job in the the future back in the NHS. Their patients need her."

Ms Reissmann, 49, has been involved in agency work since her dismissal.