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New Cross Hospital whistleblower: How coding boss was signed off sick and then suspended

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Bosses at New Cross Hospital said Sandra Haynes-Kirkbright was suspended after a complaint from her colleagues.

Mrs Haynes-Kirkbright joined the Royal Wolverhampton Trust in October 2011 as head of clinical coding and data quality.

In early 2012 she started raising concerns with her line manager and colleagues about working practices in the coding department and elsewhere.

But a letter from her colleagues in the department on April 12 2012 documents concerns over her swearing, discussing staff personal information in front of others, and harassing colleagues on sick leave.

  • MORE: Revealed - New Cross Hospital treated whistleblower 'unfairly'
  • MORE: Whistleblower - 'Now I've finally been heard I want my reputation back'
  • MORE: The Royal Wolverhampton NHS trust statement in full
Sandra Haynes-Kirkbright

"Staff members have also openly been belittled or mocked behind their backs due to the nature of their sickness and spoken to in an aggressive intimidatory manner when phoning the office."

It continued: "On multiple occasions Sandy uses bad language in front of or in earshot of members of staff both in the coding department and information department. We find the use of such language wholly unacceptable for a manager in her position, extremely intimidating and unprofessional.

"Staff on sickness leave are harassed or pressurised into returning to work while still under a sickness certification from a doctor. Two members of staff have been recently harassed by Sandy while under clear instructions from their GPs or Occupational Health that they are clearly not fit for work."

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On April 24, 2012, she was called to a meeting with bosses. She had had no warning of the coders' complaints or the purpose of the meeting.

She was given a choice: Either to accept the allegations in the complaints document, which would result in her being given a final written warning that would remain on her record for 18 months or challenge the allegations, which would result in her suspension while the allegations were investigated and could lead to her dismissal depending on the outcome of the investigation.

She was signed off sick until July 24, when she was found by occupational health to be fit to return.

As soon as she returned to work she was suspended and has been ever since.

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The investigation commissioned by the Trust Development Authority found that bosses did not follow proper procedures.

Rather than instigate an investigation into the coders' complaint, New Cross considered what punishment to take.

The report said the trust did not follow due process in its initial handling of the complaint.

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