REPRESENTATIVES of three health service campaigns joined forces last Wednesday to demand the reinstatement of Charlotte Monro, an occupational therapist and trade union activist, who dared inform a local authority about the detrimental effects of proposed health cuts at Whipps Cross Hospital, where she was employed.
Reps from We are Waltham Forest – Save Our NHS, Newham Save Our NHS and Tower Hamlets Keep Our NHS Public confronted Barts Health NHS Trust health board members and demanded Ms Monro’s reinstatement at a meeting on Wednesday at Newham University Hospital.
They accused Whipps Cross Hospital’s operating trust of bullying after the failed dismissal appeal of Charlotte Monro.
They claim the trust was “determined to get” Ms Monro, a moving and handling co-ordinator at the Leytonstone hospital, who was dismissed for serious misconduct in October after working at Whipps for 26 years.
They read a statement saying: “The Government states that it wants staff to feel safe to speak out if they see or hear anything that could compromise patient care.
“Barts Health says it subscribes to the same policy. Yet Charlotte Monro has been sacked, we say because of her work as a trade union rep, not for the main issue she was originally dismissed for – speaking to her local scrutiny committee.
“As a trade union rep she had consulted some of her members on what you claimed was a confidential plan and for assault charges she had not disclosed, dredged up from 30 years ago in protests which resulted in encounters with the police.”
Last Wednesday’s action followed a public protest outside the Royal London Hospital on the eve of Charlotte’s unsuccessful appeal against dismissal, where her accusers dredged up a new cause for her dismissal: an undisclosed conviction from 1979 when she was arrested on a demonstration following a clash with police.
In 2009 Charlotte received a special award from the Trust for her tireless efforts to defend services. The new Barts Health Trust has now dismissed her because she continued to do so!
Hundreds of staff are being down-graded and services across East London are being cut. As Unison Branch Chair, Charlotte raised concerns of staff over the impact of cuts on patient care with Waltham Forest Health Scrutiny Committee, and discussed the cuts with her union members.
This was the immediate reason given for her sacking. It is an attack on the right to speak out in the NHS, and on the rights of health staff to organise in trade unions and to campaign for services.