I went off sick from work mid Feb 2017 following several meetings with my managers regarding increased workload (we had a mass increase in patients - in the hundreds!), not enough manpower or hours to cover the workload etc. I was also prohibited from working overtime and so were my staff (I am a Practice Manager working in a GP Practice for the last ten years with an unblemished record) and eventually I started slipping behind in my work as I was unable to keep up with increase and very little was being put in place to support myself or my staff. Hence I could not cope with the stress and went sick. However, prior to going sick I had taken the petty cash home with me (I often take work home and my managers are aware of this, although they aren't always aware of what exactly I take home but I'm trusted to do so on my own judgement). I still had it with me when I went sick but then returned it to the Practice and advised that I had taken it home. I heard no more about it and as far as I was concerned, that was that.
However, I went for my return to work interview almost five weeks after going sick and was given most of my personal belongings by the covering manager prior to the meeting and when I questioned why I was given my belongings in the meeting, I was asked to leave the room. When I returned I was suspended (on full pay) for an allegation of suspicion of theft. By all accounts the petty cash was down. However, during investigation it was all accounted for, and it was found that no money was missing at all. So... they changed the allegation to potential theft as I'd taken the petty cash home without prior authorisation and it was escalated to disciplinary (there is no policy in place to seek authority to take it home; it was, however, common practice for me to take work/work things home frequently and my managers were aware of this).
I attended for disciplinary and recorded the meeting with the consent of everyone present. During the meeting, it was clear that my manager hadn't paid a great deal of notice to the investigation as they were questioning me on things that had been addressed at investigation, but weren't aware of the answers I was giving. I practically had a rerun of the investigation, to the point where my union rep had to intervene and stipulate that the investigation meeting had already taken place. My manager also threw lots of irrelevant things at me and tried to make me feel like I'd been emotionally manipulative in the past as I'd become tearful on occasions when I'd felt out of my depth with the increased workload that they were more than aware of.
The outcome took two and a half weeks to be reached and I was given a final written warning on the basis that no such work should be taken home in future without explicit authority (by no means will I be taking any work home from now on after what I've been put through!).
However, when I questioned when I would be expected to return to work, I was told that it hasn't been decided yet and that they need to discuss my return to work with my union rep, which I thought was rather odd. I assumed that since an outcome had been reached and I was in receipt of this in writing, I was no longer suspended and should return to work at the next available opportunity.
My other issue is that I feel this was orchestrated from the start because not only was I pushing for extra wages for the staff (they are on minimum wage and have huge stresses and responsibilities for patients), but also extra staff hours to meet the demands of the increased workload. On top of this, there was conflict between myself and one of the partners (has been for some time now) and her conduct towards me. She often goes over my head, undermines me, speaks rudely to me, speaks down to me, shouts at other staff members which I've had to address, has interfered with recent job interviews that I've had in order to ensure I didn't leave the practice (leave them without a manager; not because they didn't want to lose me particularly). They even offered me more money and a position to manage another practice as well in order for me to stay, although neither came to fruition. This resulted in me trying to address the conflict formally with my other managers and we had to have a mediation meeting just a few weeks prior to me going sick. I'd also formally requested that they review my wage to reflect my role and duties as I've verbally requested this many times in the past and it hasn't been done properly.
While being off sick, they managed to find cover for me in the form of a retired practice manager who gave up a full time job elsewhere to cover me initially for four weeks. This has obviously rolled on but has made me think that now they realise they can find someone to replace me and they won't be without a manager in post, they are now keen to get rid as opposed to keeping me (and the likelyhood of the covering manager pushing for extra wages is very slim, not to mention being 'fresh blood' in the practice so no animosity between her and the partner I've been having issues with; therefore being less of a nuisance to the Partners).
Prior to the disciplinary meeting, I also requested access to my work emails because I felt that there were things that would be pertinent to the disciplinary meeting, which was granted under supervision (naturally). However, when I got there, I was already logged on (the interim manager had my login details NOT provided by me and without my knowledge) and some of the emails that I was looking for had been deleted, and the deleted folder completely emptied. She had also been using my email account despite having her own NHS email account and instead of my "out of office reply" being amended to contact her email address in my absence, it was taken off completely so there is now nothing to say I am not in work. I work under the NHS but in a private practice and I've attached part of their email misuse policy:
I also thought that this may be contravening the Computer Misuse Act 1990, attached info:
On top of this, I am also a patient at the same practice and while I do not generally see one of the partners, I am in the process of joining a different practice as this is a huge conflict of interest. However, I have been alerted through an appointment with another clinician there that my records have been accessed many times by the Partners (my managers) after me attending the surgery to see either a locum doctor or a nurse. I don't think this is acceptable as I feel they were checking what I was saying to the clinicians and trying to preempt what, if anything, I was planning to do about the conflict with one of the partners.
So my questions are:
1. Am I to assume that I am no longer suspended?
2. Should it just be as simple as returning to work or will there have to be further meetings to move forward?
3. I feel that this has been blatantly blown out of proportion in order to try and get rid of me now that they have someone else in post on a lesser wage than me who will be less of a nuisance to them. Am I in a position to do anything about this?
4. What should I do about the email situation? Do I report it to the NHS or the data commissioner or someone?
5. Should I report the GP's (my managers) for accessing my medical records for employment reasons (or rather, no clinical reason)? They had no reason to look at my consultations and had they not been my employers, they wouldn't have had access to do so.
I have been offered a conditional offer of a post elsewhere, pending references,which I have accepted and I am planning on telling my new employers what has gone on (this all happened after I was offered the post so I didn't NOT declare it at the time of interview). However, I cannot hand my notice in until I've received an unconditional offer and I know the new job is safe. Once this is in place, I will be handing in my notice.
One thing I've learnt is that loyalty and dedication to the job counts for nothing these days; we are but a number on the payroll, a bum on a seat.