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Woman faces financial ruin after suing Southend Hospital
A WOMAN who tried to sue Southend Hospital alleging managers bullied her for months after she blew the whistle regarding a colleague is facing financial ruin.
Gillian Austin who has worked as a healthcare assistant for 16 years has been handed a bill for £49,581 for costs incurred in taking the case to East London Employment Tribunal Service.
Mrs Austin, 58, represented herself at the tribunal and was warned at a pre hearing that she had little chance of winning and could face a hefty bill if the judges ruled against her.
She says she has been forced to move from her home in Hockley with her husband and does not know how she will pay the bill, having not returned to the hospital. Mrs Austin, who earned £26,000 a year as a healthcare assistant, said: “I am bitterly disappointed and disagree with the conclusions arrived at as although not legally trained, I did my best by conducting myself honestly and respectfully.
“Given what has been going on I am unable to return to work as it would be like going into the lion’s den.
“I am currently off work with stress. I’m on anti-depressants and I’m taking ill health retirement.
“I love my job, my patients and colleagues. I always worked for thier best interests and safety.
This problem was with a few managers.
“I’ve moved away from the area and am renting my house out. I’ve even been alienated from my own daughter. My life has been ruined. I don’t know how I will pay for this due to my impending lack of income.”
An official grievance was lodged by Mrs Austin in November 2009, but it took until this summer to come to a tribunal.
She was claiming £185,000 in damages saying she was subjected to six months of victimisation after she reported a nurse for taking just four-and-a-half hours off between a night shift and her next shift, believing it was putting patients at risk.
The tribunal heard she was offered just 56p in compensation to settle her case.
Mrs Austin faces a hearing to discuss the matter of costs.
A solicitor on behalf of the hospital has written to Mrs Austin informing her the application for costs is due to “the claimant acting vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably in the bringing or conducting of the proceedings and that the claims had no reasonable prospect of success”.
- Subsequent to this story's publication, Mrs Austin's daughter contacted the Echo to say they were estranged prior to the tribunal and added the estrangement was not linked to the tribunal.
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