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27 March 2000

"VICTIMISED" UNION REP AT BEDFORD NHS TRUST MUST BE CLEARED BY INQUIRY

The MSF health union representative at Bedford General, who has been "victimised" after she complained about the treatment of female staff by a top consultant, must cleared by an internal Trust inquiry on Wednesday (29 March), says her union.

Monica Carmichael, manager of the Cardiology department at the hospital and currently Secretary of the Joint Union Staff Side Committee with the Bedford Hospital NHS Trust was suspended from work on 13 October in what MSF described as "an outrageous piece of victimisation."

The Trust board is due to meet on Wednesday to consider the internal report into Ms Carmichael's suspension. Ms Carmichael said today (Monday, 27 March): "I fully expect to be exonerated and look forward to being immediately restored to my job. I have been through five months of incredible stress."

Ms Carmichael, who lives in Bedford, said: "I believe that my treatment by the Trust has been aimed at preventing or deterring me from taking part in the activities of an independent trade union or penalising me from doing so."

MSF's Head of Health, Roger Kline said: "While we have serious questions about the conduct of the inquiry, we will be appalled if Monica - a dedicated healthcare professional - is not cleared."

"However, we would be prepared to demand an independent inquiry into the background to this affair, if the Trust does not clear Monica's name completely at its meeting. This has been one of the worst cases of vicitimisation we have come across in the health service since the last General Election."

Ms Carmichael's case started in July last year when she made a formal complaint against consultant cardiologist, Ian Cooper over his alleged attitude towards work to be done by a pregnant member of staff.

She received no response until after she was suspended in October. In December, further allegations were made over a matter which had arisen while she was suspended from work.

Ms Carmichael has never been subject to any form of disciplinary action during her ten years of employment with the Trust.

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NOTE FOR NEWS DESKS

For further information, please contact

John Simmons 0468 93 13 22
Roger Kline 0468 69 39 34
Shaun Noble Press Officer (020) 7939 7043 Mobile 0468 69 39 40

MSF represents 65,000 health service professionals including the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists, laboratory scientific staff, the College of Health Care Chaplains, the Community Psychiatric Nurses Association, the Medical Practitioners Union, clinical psychologists, speech therapists, the Hospital Physicists Association and the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association.

MSF has 400,000 skilled and professional members in a wide range of industries. It is the UK's fifth largest union

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