Northern Ireland

Nurse whistleblower Kevin Murray wins damages

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Media captionAgency nurse Kevin Murray said whistleblowing was part of his job

A whistleblower has won undisclosed damages against a national nursing agency following an industrial tribunal in Belfast.

Agency nurse Kevin Murray made allegations of abuse and neglect regarding a patient's home care package.

He waived his right to anonymity and told the BBC that he had suffered professionally and financially.

There was no admission of liability by the nursing agency for any claims made.

However, the BBC understands that the group paid an undisclosed sum to Mr Murray.

Mr Murray looked after one patient who had suffered a brain injury and needed round-the-clock nursing care at home.

He was unhappy with the standard of care package being provided which, he said, constituted abuse and neglect. He said the health and safety of the patient was being endangered.

Image caption The case was heard at an industrial tribunal in Belfast

He was critical of the management of a court order that involved him supervising contact between the patient and a relative.

Mr Murray was employed by a national nursing agency group called A24. He said his concerns were ignored by management, both within the agency and the Belfast health trust, which was responsible for the patient.

He is a member of Patients First Northern Ireland.

Not safe

Mr Murray said that as a result of making his disclosures, he had been "dragged through the muck".

He said he was removed from his role with the patient and received fewer and fewer shifts from the agency. He got no work for almost two years.

Mr Murray said he still felt passionate about nursing but would not return as he felt it was not safe for those who raised concerns.

He has now instructed his legal team to issue proceedings against the Belfast health trust.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "It is understood that following an industrial tribunal case against his employer, Mr Murray has signalled his intention to take legal action and therefore it would be appropriate to await the outcome before commenting specifically.

"However, the minister has made it clear since taking office that whistleblowers with genuine concerns play an important and positive role in the workplace.

"All Arms Length Bodies (ALBs) are required to have a whistleblowing policy in place that emphasise that it is safe and acceptable for staff to raise concerns.

"The minister issued a message to all health and social care staff in March 2012 setting out clearly his commitment to the highest possible standards of conduct, openness, honesty and accountability.

"It is important to reiterate, not just to our healthcare workers but to the general public, that the minister continues to encourage a culture within which staff feel they can speak up and that their concerns will be responded to positively."

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