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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Cumbria hospital bosses will not fight race case ruling

Hospital bosses have withdrawn their appeal against a court ruling that a senior nurse was racially discriminated against while working in north Cumbria.

Sarina Saigar photo
Serena Saigar

Dr Sarina Saiger, who is of mixed race, won her case against the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust following a six-week tribunal hearing last year.

The 43-year-old single mum claimed she was the victim of a calculated campaign of racial discrimination, victimisation and harassment, during which she was told she was the “wrong colour and culture for Cumbria” by her manager.

It happened between 2005 and 2008, while she was as an assistant director of nursing at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary and the West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven.

The court also ruled that she was unfairly dismissed.

Following the decision, published in March this year, trust bosses had until the beginning of May to lodge an appeal.

It has now emerged that the trust did lodge an appeal with the employment tribunal within the allocated time frame. However, documents obtained by the News & Star show this appeal was then withdrawn by hospital bosses on June 5. It was formally dismissed by the court on June 17.

Chief executive Carole Heatly, who joined the trust after Dr Saiger launched tribunal proceedings, confirmed that this was the case. She said they opted to lodge an appeal before the deadline passed, but later decided not to go ahead with the action.

She explained: “There is a short-time scale in law when an appeal can be lodged. The trust decided not to proceed in the interests of all concerned, learn lessons by it and move on from this sad case.”

During the high-profile hearing, which began in Newcastle last September, the trust’s most senior bosses, including former chief executive Marie Burnham, took to the stand to defend themselves and the organisation.

The panel eventually upheld 16 of her 27 individual allegations against the trust, while 11 were dismissed.

Among those successful were claims that she had been discriminated against on racial grounds; she had been unlawfully harassed by her employers; she had been unlawfully victimised;she had been unfairly dismissed; and she was the victim of a racially aggravated assault which was effectively concealed with no proper investigation.

Following the decision, the trust issued a formal apology to Dr Saiger and stressed that a new management team had since been established.

However, a remedies hearing – to establish how much compensation she will receive – has yet to take place. It is understood that this will now be held in September.

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