The Townsville Hospital – Bullying & Security

Most of you would have seen the recent media stories about our Townsville Hospital Branch Secretary Kirsten McAllister. Here is what happened in a nutshell.

Kirsten, like the vast majority of our members, has had an impeccable career. Queensland Health awarded her most improved Nurse Unit Manager and Service June 2016. As a working NUM she had been asked twice during her tenure to take on acting roles as Nursing Director with the view to promotion. Unfortunately, on both occasions these offers coincided with her own pre-arranged leave arrangements so she was unable to accept them. Nothing sinister here. It was just coincidence and she was told she would be offered future ongoing appointments. At no stage had Kirsten's Nursing Director or HR ever received any complaints regarding her management by any employees. No question, she was and still is a top nurse and was and still is highly regarded by her peers.

In her role as NUM she was required and expected by her Nursing Director to also take on a role with seven "issue ridden" and problematic nurses. No one likes doing this work but she was skilled in this discipline and had achieved positive outcomes in the past.

Kirsten_Townsville_Hospital_NPAQ.jpgSeparately, Kirsten raised specific bullying issues against a senior clinical nurse manager. Many of her colleagues had similar problems with this person but were afraid to raise them. This senior nurse manager later left the hospital, under a cloud by the way. But before she did, she responded with a litany of what were patently false and fatuous accusations against Kirsten. At the same time the seven "case managed" nurses who Kirsten supervised, all simultaneously lodged almost identical "bullying" complaints against Kirsten. Many nurses have told us the local QNMU office coordinated it all. That is pure hearsay, but we can say they all looked like they were written by the same person and included such gems as "Kirsten accused me of not replacing the overhead projector bulb" (they don't have an overhead projector) and "She wouldn't give me TOIL" (not true). No responsible management would ever consider any of this sort of fatuous nonsense worthy of investigation other than to get a response on each from the accused for the record. Unsurprisingly they were all, that’s right; every single accusation was subsequently proved to be false.

But in what we say was a complete denial of "natural justice", with no allegations provided that she could respond to, Kirsten was stood down. The local hospital board chairman, former local politician Tony Mooney announced in the Townsville Bulletin that he was going to stamp out bullying and inferred "inter alia" that the "bullies", one of them easily identified as Kirsten, had been stood down and were going to be investigated. What a "stitch up"! This torturous process went on for 9 months no doubt hoping that Kirsten would give up and leave. But the truth finally won out. We are all still waiting for Tony Mooney to go to the media and set the record straight about his role in this disgrace.

Because she was found totally innocent, the CEO Keiran Keyes had no choice but to reinstate her to her old job but he wouldn't. She was told that she could be a nurse navigator, take it or leave it or risk termination. Similar pay but fewer prospects of advancement.

The Townsville Hospital had tried to shoot the messenger and didn't like it when the victim survived. So again they tried to cover it all up. We have all the letters and emails.

So in the pursuit of justice we then turned the tables and instigated a complaint of bullying against the CEO. Last Monday the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission heard Kirsten's horror story and ordered the case to go to open trial in the new year.

It also ruled on another matter initially raised by Kirsten last month. Her colleagues in the wards affected had also all separately complained to management about an abusive partner of a patient. He had been smuggling in drugs and leaving uncapped syringes all around the patient. Needle stick injury could have been fatal. Do we really have to explain why the NPAQ wanted the man banned and the patient isolated? The management response that security was too expensive and that nurses can go to the police if they are abused is simply unacceptable. Unless it is sorted this week, we will be having an urgent trial as soon as possible after Christmas. Nurse safety is not a bargaining chip for the NPAQ.

Here is the link to the original courier mail article which broke the story about the drugs being smuggled into the hospital:

There was a great deal of media but these articles tell the full story.

Townsville Bulletin story 

The Courier Mail story about the QIRC hearing on Monday the 17th:

The Star FM story about the hearing:

The Channel 9 coverage of the hearing:

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