The nurse or midwife gets a call to go to the office. There is often no indication of what is about to happen. Often they are not told to bring a union rep (if they are a member) or a trusted colleague if they are not, and they don’t think to try and find out what it is all about.
They walk in to a room with their line manager and someone from Human Resources sitting waiting for them. They start to feel anxious. They are invited to sit down and told they are to be suspended because of allegations that have been made about them.
The information they are given is sparse. Sometimes it is virtually non existent. Sometimes they are given a copy of the trust’s disciplinary policies, sometimes they have to request it later.
Then they are asked for their ID and any keys and ‘marched off the premises’ – the phrase often used, with their shocked colleagues looking on. Oh the shame and humiliation of it.
Worse than that is a phone call telling them they are not to come into work and that they will receive a letter telling them why. Then the process I mentioned in my previous blog entry, kicks in.
So what impact does this terrible shock have on them?
They can’t eat, they can’t sleep, they can’t think straight except racking their brains trying to remember what it is that they are supposed to have done. If their families are around, they are equally shocked and also very very angry that their lovely family member has been treated in this way.
There is a standard letter used by HR that tells them they are not to contact anyone or go into work. So what if their partner works for the trust? What if they need to attend hospital for themselves or a family member? What if the people they work with are very good friends?
On our website, there is a template letter people can use to challenge this instruction. It is for the trust to show that it is proportionate and reasonable (See the Home page of www.suspension-nhs.org)
An ACAS helpline adviser told us that there is no legislation that supports this instruction. A Human Rights Commission adviser told us that it is an infringement of the Human Rights Act 1998 Article 8 that allows people the right to respect for private and family life. See www.equalityhumanrights.com
Where are the unions on this? Why haven’t they challenged this already?
It is no wonder that many people suffer psychological injury and require urgent treatment. Many people describe having suicidal thoughts and some have even attempted it.
Worst of all, the managers have absolutely no idea of all this, or if they do, they don’t have any compassion or loyalty or belief in their staff, another shock to the suspended staff member.
The suffering is one reason why the team at www.suspension-nhs.org still carries on, having experienced so much of these feelings ourselves.
So those of you who get to read this and who have no knowledge of these terrible injustices and injuries to staff, just consider the possibility that suspended people may not actually be guilty of any wrongdoing but will be suffering terribly.
On this sad note, my best wishes to you