A midwife who claimed she was punished by NHS managers after revealing working practices she believed put patients at risk has lost an employment tribunal.
Louise Westwood said she was wrongly accused of bullying after reporting concerns at the Cotswold Maternity Unit in Chipping Norton.
Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUHT) had denied the allegations.
Mr Tony McDonald, general manager of children’s and women’s services for OUHT said: “We are pleased that the Employment Tribunal ruled that Mrs Westwood’s allegations were not well founded and that they have been dismissed.
“The Trust takes all allegations of bullying and harassment extremely seriously. We have a comprehensive policy in place to support staff who wish to raise matters of concern, which are thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken.
“Staff are never penalised for raising concerns about the services we provide.”
The employment tribunal, held in Reading, found Mrs Westwood was moved from her post in Chipping Norton legitimately.
The midwife, who had ten years of experience, thought that standards of care had slipped after a series of incidents at the maternity unit.
She wrote to alert managers about the problems, including a partially deaf midwife who left a mother and her baby in bed after she failed to hear a fire drill at the unit.
The letter, sent in January last year, also complained that another colleague was repeatedly late and had deliberately filled her time sheets out incorrectly. The trust launched an internal investigation after the deaf midwife – known only as Midwife Two – made an official complaint about Mrs Westwood’s “bullying behaviour” in April last year.
Mrs Westwood was removed from the unit during the inquiry, which found her guilty of bullying behaviour and led to a 12-month written warning.
The tribunal heard that she has been signed off work sick since December last year for the stress she had suffered during the investigation.
Another midwife who had also complained about Midwife Two was dismissed over the bullying storm, the tribunal heard.
The tribunal heard Mrs Westwood thought she had followed national and trust guidelines by raising her concerns over patient safety.
However, she said the letter had ruined her ten-year career as a midwife. She said: “I genuinely believed that various practices carried out by colleagues was putting patients at risk and involved potentially fraudulent activity.
“I was entitled to then submit these concerns.
“Coincidentally, some weeks later I and another colleague received bullying and harassment allegations against us and were removed from the unit while the investigations took place.”
Mrs Westwood said she was “mortified and shocked” by what happened.
She said: “I feel violated and exposed.
“I never expected this turn of events to have happened and my only concern has always been for the mothers, fathers and babies I serve.”
The Trust denied Mrs Westwood’s claims and said she bullied and harassed Midwife Two over a number of years.
Managers told the panel that they stood by the decision to discipline her following their internal probe into the bullying allegations.