Nurse in bid for commission to order Townsville Hospital to act on unsafe conditions, bullying

Jill Poulsen, Health Affairs, The Courier-Mail

TOWNSVILLE Hospital’s failure to ban an aggressive drug user who continually abuses staff and leaves syringes around during hospital visits to his sick wife has landed it in court.

Kirsten McAllister – a nurse who was stood down from her senior role for close to 12 months after speaking out about bullying at the hospital – has taken her grievances to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.

Ms McAllister’s general protection claim seeks damages from the hospital for enduring what her lawyer Miles Heffernan described as “18 months of hell”.

In addition to damages she wants the abusive visitor banned from the hospital and to be reinstated in her old role as a nurse unit manager. She is currently working in a senior nursing role.

Nurses Professional Association Queensland executive director Graeme Haycroft believed the complaints were retribution against Kirsten McAllister for speaking out.

The nurse of 30-odd years was stood down at the start of the year after seven complaints were made about her. In September she was reinstated after being exonerated of all claims.

The Nurses Professional Association Queensland executive director Graeme Haycroft said he believed the complaints were retribution for Ms McAllister constantly speaking out against unsafe conditions and bullying.

“She has raised issues about bullying and instead of those issues being investigated they picked on her, suspended her for 12 months and she was found totally innocent of seven different accusations,” he said.

“We cannot allow this culture of bullying to continue … if someone brings forward a concern about safety it has to be dealt with.”

On Monday the commission decided that the hospital and Ms McAllister should continue to try to find a solution regarding the aggressive visitor but ruled that the other two issues should go to trial.

Townsville Hospital and Health Service chief executive Kieran Keyes said out of respect for the process he would not comment further on the matters before the commission.



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