Published: 00:01, 09 March 2018
The sacking of a long-serving nurse for posting angry comments about hospital management online could deter other staff from speaking out, it is feared.
Peggy Pryer, who is a former steward with the Royal College of Nursing and now campaigns for Concern for Health in East Kent (Chek), says the dismissal of Jacky Moskovits could put others off raising workplace concerns.
Ms Moskovits was sacked following disciplinary proceedings which heard that she had insulted the hospital trust’s former chief executive, Matthew Kershaw.
Following his resignation last year, she posted on Facebook: “The D***HEAD has left the building.”
Her posts also included one which read: “It seems no matter how many lives you save, your employers are out to get you.”
Her actions led to her dismissal last November, with bosses saying they could have brought the trust into disrepute.
In a letter from the chair of the disciplinary committee, Claire Casarotto, she was told: “While I sympathise with the challenges of staffing and working within a busy department, this was not an appropriate way to raise your concerns.
“The incident occurred at a time when the trust was under extreme scrutiny from the CQC and this type of information could bring the trust into disrepute if it had been viewed by the CQC or the public.”
But following her sacking, the 59-year-old has received widespread online support from her colleagues.
Now Mrs Pryer says the trust can ill-afford to lose such a high calibre nurse and she fears the sacking will deter other staff from speaking out about working conditions.
“You will not find a patient who will say they received nothing but outstanding care from Jacky so her loss to the department will be felt,” she said.
“She was simply making some, albeit outspoken, points about the environment they are working in and the crisis in healthcare. Unfortunately, bullying has been happening for years at the hospital and incidents like this will deter others from expressing their concerns publicly.”
Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield says hospital staff aggrieved by workplace conditions should be able to express their "anger and frustration".
"Many local NHS staff, including plenty of nurses, are incredibly frustrated and fed up with the way they see our hospitals being failed," she said.
"They are the people we all rely on to make us better and care for us and our families during times of illness and crisis.
"Nurses like Jacky who are on the front line are overworked and underpaid; why shouldn’t she be able to voice her anger and frustration if the job she loves is made so incredibly difficult to do by chronic levels of under-funding and not enough staff?
"She is telling us what it’s like to work in extremely difficult conditions and if we don’t listen to the experts, nurses like Jacky, who know the real extent of the NHS crisis, then we’ll never learn how to put it right."
The East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, says it cannot comment on individual cases, but spokesman Steve James said: “I can confirm the Nursing and Midwifery Council has guidance on the use of social media.
“This states all registrants must use all forms of spoken, written and digital communication – including social media and networking sites – responsibly, respecting the right to privacy of others at all times.”