A NURSE claims a ‘horrible bullying culture’ has forced her to resign from a hospital trust.

Leona Harris, from Helmshore, an acute care nursing sister at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital, feels bosses had ‘forced her out of her job of 15 years’.

The 45-year-old resigned from her position on New Year’s Day after months of investigation and disciplinary hearings.

East Lancashire Hospitals Trust (ELHT) chiefs vigorously deny the claims and said they were ‘completely unfounded’.

But Mrs Harris insists that a complaint she made of bullying had made her a ‘target’ and that other team members had quit for similar reasons.

She said she felt bullied as she felt her performance was under ‘constant scrutiny’ in work.

Following her resignation, she wrote a Facebook post explaining why she was leaving, which attracted thousands of shares and comments from patients and NHS staff across the country, who supported her.

She said: “I do feel like I was forced out from the moment I made the bullying complaint. I finally had a letter from the trust saying there was no evidence to support this allegation of bullying.

“The letter said the trust had conducted an inquiry and had produced a report but that I was not entitled to see it because this would be against trust policy. I just couldn’t believe it.

“I was devastated to have to resign from a job which I’d done for 15 years.

“I will continue to fight this though and raise awareness of bullying in the workplace and the horrible bullying culture in ELHT.”

Her resignation comes after Mrs Harris told the Lancashire Telegraph how she had got into trouble in work after attending an incident in the early hours of February last year.

It saw her attend an emergency transfer of a woman who had suffered a miscarriage followed by a womb haemorrhage.

But the nurse said her decision to change the patient’s blood in the ambulance landed her in trouble with bosses and her employers decided to discipline her because paperwork authorising use of the blood had been accidentally left behind.

Mrs Harris, who has been supported throughout her battle by husband Nick, said: “I had to do what I was thought was right in the patient’s interest as I was worried she might go into shock and suffer a cardiac arrest. So I decided to act and change the blood bag.

“It was a decision that ultimately saved the patient’s life and the woman went home from hospital the next day.”

Mrs Harris said the incident sparked an investigation and disciplinary hearings into her actions.

She said a form that should have been filled in before she gave the new blood had been accidentally left behind when one of the paramedics collected the patient’s note, which meant she had technically broken the rules.

But Mrs Harris said: “I admitted this from the start and the case was an emergency, triggering the major haemorrhage protocol governing patients who might bleed to death.

“I was told that apparently I should have just observed the patient, but I was in a life or death decision where the patient was losing a lot of blood and could have died. I chose to save that patient’s life.”

Following the incident, Mrs Harris said she was advised to do blood transfusion training and accepted this.

But she then said managers told her not to turn up for her next three night shifts, and then got her to write a reflection of the incident when she returned for a day shift.

It ended up with a full investigation being launched and a disciplinary hearing which took place in August.

Mrs Harris was given a written warning, and was offered a transfer to Burnley.

But after appealing the decision, it was again rejected at a hearing in October. Then she was offered the chance to work as a ‘band five’ staff nurse – a desk job and a demotion – and rejected this and said she had no other choice but to resign.

But Kevin Moynes, director of human resources and organisational development for ELHT, said Mrs Harris’ subsequent allegations of bullying were ‘fully investigated and followed an open, transparent and exhaustive process, and found to be completely unfounded.’

He said: “Patient and staff confidentiality is important to us, so we are not able to go into the detail we would like.

“The issue has been repeatedly mis-represented as a trivial matter around paperwork; it was not, and we are satisfied we acted appropriately and proportionately in the circumstances.

“Mrs Harris’ subsequent allegations of bullying were fully investigated and following an open, transparent and exhaustive process, found to be completely unfounded.

“We are disappointed that a straightforward matter has descended into the current situation.

“As with any member of staff in these circumstances, we have taken all reasonable steps to support Mrs Harris back to work.

“We would add that this trust does not tolerate bullying and harassment and will always encourage and support staff to ‘speak up’.

“Our annual staff survey tells us we are in the top performing 20 per cent of trusts in this regard, having the fewest number of staff who feel they are being, or have been, bullied.

“We believe this is a result of the supportive mechanisms we have in place for staff, and the thorough and transparent way in which we deal with such concerns.”