A NURSE, dubbed 'the Angel of the North' during the pandemic, has received a vital boost in her appeal against an 'unjust' investigation.

Despite being lauded for her dedication on the frontline during the pandemic, Leona Harris, 48 from Rossendale, has been at the centre of an investigation by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust after an incident in 2017.

She potentially saved a patient's life with a blood transfusion while travelling between Royal Blackburn and Burnley General Hospitals, but found that the relevant paperwork had been overlooked.

Mrs Harris maintains that she did the right thing in the circumstances and last week was relieved to receive a letter from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), which the trust had referred her case to, saying that she has 'no case to answer' in their view.

She said: "I'm just getting my life back on track, I just wanted to move on with my life because I was working 14 hours a day and then to be hit with a court case on top of that!"

She added: "I have to say though that the NMC process was terrific.

"I went into that process prepared to be quite defensive but I found them to be very honest, they carried out a full and transparent investigation.

"They were just really good."

Mrs Harris first came to public attention while working as an agency nurse with a campaign to help secure iPads for patients stuck in isolation at Fairfield General Hospital in Bury, which eventually raised over £70,000 for over 50 hospitals.

In response, she was shortlisted for the Florence Nightingale Nurse of the Year Award and selected to take part in the Blackpool Illuminations virtual switch on.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Leona Harris worked on the frontline during the pandemic

However, she was shocked to be informed in October 2020 that she had been referred to the NMC by East Lancashire Health Trust for investigation over the 2017 incident, while an initial employment tribunal in October ruled against Mrs Harris in favour of East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.

However, at an Employment Tribunal Hearing held virtually from the Rolls Building, Fettel Lane, London on January 5 the judge, Her Honour Katherine Tucker, concluded that Mrs Harris had grounds for appeal on the grounds of a ‘precipitous referral’, meaning that the trust's investigation against her had been launched 'unfairly and prematurely.'

Meanwhile, the NMC's decision this week has proved to be another vital boost for Mrs Harris, her husband Nick and their children.

She said: "To be honest, I just want it to be over because it can feel like a constant battle, but I have to carry on because I need my name completely clearing.

"If I can make a change for other people so they don't have to go through what I've gone through then I'll feel like I've achieved something."

Meanwhile husband Nick feels that Mrs Harris' decision in 2017 has now been vindicated.

He said: "If, at the end of the day, she's been exonerated by an independent regulator, then she's perfectly entitled to stand by her position."

He added: "It's proven that what she did was the right thing."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said this had caused significant pain and upset for many people over many years.

She said: “It has been very difficult and isn’t reflective of the culture at the Trust or the positive relationships that exist between colleagues across our sites.

"This has been particularly evident as we have pulled together as a team in response to the pandemic.

“We have followed appropriate processes and note the NMC has decided not to take the referral any further.  

“A separate employment tribunal brought forward by Mrs Harris found in our favour but we have agreed not to pursue legal costs.

"Mrs Harris has appealed the decision.”

The date for the next stage of Leona Harris' appeal has yet to be confirmed.