A HEAD midwife who was sacked after allegedly referring to an overweight patient as a “whale on a bed”, has lost an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal. 

The tribunal heard “bully” Jennifer Stillman was suspended in March 2019 after making derogatory comments about staff and patients. 

Mrs Stillman was also accused of creating a “negative atmoshphere that made people feel unwelcome”. 

It was also heard that a number of student nurses considered applying for different jobs as a result of Mrs Stillman’s “derogatory” remarks and “offensive” comments about patients.

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At the tribunal, Mrs Stillman admitted to calling women “fat” if they were obese but denied using the term “whale on a bed”.

She also allegedly made a comment about “black African women being difficult to deal with when in pain in labour” claiming she made a reference to her bad back.

The panel also heard that a student midwife was reduced to tears due to her “negative atmosphere”.

Members of staff eventually made a complaint and following the outcome of a disciplinary hearing, Mrs Stillman was sacked for gross misconduct.

Since she has appealed the decision, where the tribunal ruled the “dismissal was fair”.

Catrin Lewis, the employment judge, said the decision by the the Mid and South Essex Hospital Trust to dismiss Mrs Stillman was fair.

She said: “There was evidence from which the Respondent had concluded that the claimant created a negative atmosphere, made people feel unwelcome and had reduced a student midwife to tears.

“Whilst there was also evidence to suggest that the claimant was well liked by other colleagues the respondent reasonably believed the evidence from a number of staff demonstrated that she displayed bullying behaviour. 

“I am satisfied that the decision of the Respondent and the procedure that it followed fell within those open to a reasonable employer and that the dismissal was fair within the meaning of section 98 (4) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 in all the circumstances.

“The claim for unfair dismissal fails and is dismissed.”