Rocky Hospital forced to rehire man accused of touching patient
ROCKHAMPTON Hospital will have to reinstate a male nurse who was unfairly dismissed following an inadequate investigation of a patient's complaint of inappropriate touching.
Queensland Industrial Relations Commission Deputy President Daniel O'Connor also ordered the State to maintain Allan Alfred White's continuity of service and pay his lost wages.
Mr White, who had worked as an enrolled nurse in Rockhampton Hospital's surgical unit, had his employment terminated, without notice, for alleged misconduct on June 27, last year.
QIRC heard Mr White had first been suspended from duty on full pay on December 7, 2015, without being told the nature of allegations against him.
He later was told that it was alleged he inappropriately touched a male patient on October 28, 2015 and was given 14 days to show cause why he should not be disciplined.
Mr White, who was represented by Queensland Nurses' Union, strongly denied any inappropriate touching occurred in the course of him performing post-operative checks on a surgical patient.
Mr White said he had checked a splint high in the patient's thigh area.
The Commission heard a patient had told another nurse he felt Mr White had been fiddling with the drainage tubes in the groin area for a bit longer than he felt was necessary.
A hospital nurse unit manager later received an anonymous complaint about Mr White and a nurse unit manager tracked down the complainant.
She later spoke to the former surgical patient, who allegedly said Mr White had inappropriately touched his genitals.
On May 24 last year, Mr White was informed that the allegation against him had been substantiated, he was guilty of misconduct and his employment was to be terminated.
Mr White sought reinstatement and Mr O'Connor found his dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable and therefore unfair.
He said Mr White was not notified of the reason for his dismissal, the termination letter did not state why he had been found guilty of misconduct and there was no formal investigation.
Mr O'Connor said the evidence against Mr White was deficient and he criticised the State for not calling the patient to give evidence.
He said there was also an issue of bias, because unrelated unsubstantiated allegations about Mr White, from 2008, which did not result in any disciplinary action, were considered.
Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service said it was considering the decision.
Beth Mohle of Queensland Nurses Union said the decision supported the union's concerns about the process involved in Mr White's dismissal.