A midwife who was sacked for taking too many sick days after she fell ill because of a lack of toilets at work has won an employment tribunal.
Jane Greaves was sacked from Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, after contracting a kidney infection because the birthing centre where she worked did not have a staff toilet.
The 46-year-old said low staffing levels meant she was unable to leave the unit to go to the toilet, which was a two-minute walk away in another department.
Her dismissal led to an online petition calling for her reinstatement, which attracted more than 40,000 signatures.
And at an appeal hearing this week, Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust overturned its decision, meaning the midwife can now return to work.
Ms Greaves, who has 16 years’ midwifery experience, fell ill on 30 December following a night shift at the hospital.
She was rushed to A&E on New Year's Eve and was reportedly told by a urologist that she had not been emptying her bladder often enough “over a period of time” and had contracted a kidney infection.
The midwife said she was handed a seven-day sick note on 2 January this year, taking her total number of sick days to 14 in the 12 months from January 2017 to January 2018.
She had been off sick with migraines caused by stress for seven days over five separate occasions.
Ms Greaves was stunned when the head of midwifery told her during a disciplinary meeting that she was being sacked with immediate effect on 15 March because of her “poor sickness record”.
The sacking came despite the hospital advertising job vacancies for midwives.
“Work is all I have got so to take it away from me is horrendous,” Ms Greaves said after her dismissal.
“It’s the best job in the world and I've just been in a daze, I cannot sleep and cannot think.”
Ms Greaves said when the birthing centre opened in September 2016 it had three midwives and two health carers, which has since been slashed to just two midwives and one health carer.
She said she informed management at least 49 times about issues with high workload and not enough staff at the unit.
“The unit I work on does not have a staff area or staff toilet,” she said. “You just ignore it; you can’t just say to a woman ‘stop pushing, I’m going for a wee’.”
Adrian O’Malley, of trade union Unison, described Ms Greaves’s dismissal as “the most unjust I have witnessed in over 35 years as a steward at Pinderfields Hospital”.
Trudie Davies, chief operating officer at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ”After careful consideration, it was decided that the sanction applied to Ms Greaves be downgraded in order to allow her to return to work.
“We look forward to Ms Greaves returning to the Trust.”
SWNS contributed to this report
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