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Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

‘Batty’ nurse reinstated

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A Northern Rivers nurse on working a psychiatric ward at Lismore Base Hospital has been reinstated after appealing her sacking.

Christine Borthistle, who is also a wildlife carer, was sacked by the Northern NSW Health District last November after she handed over an injured bat to another wildlife carer in the carpark of the mental health ward at the hospital.

The Health District claimed it had the right to sack her without appeal because it had previously issued her with a formal warning not to bring animals into the ward as she had previously done.

The Health Services Union successfully argued on Ms Borthistle’s behalf that the carpark did not constitute part of the ward and that she was not breaking the terms of her warning.

She appealed the decision to the industrial relations commissioner, who found the sacking to be ‘harsh, unreasonable and unjust’.

The commissioner also said the Health District ‘failed to conduct an investigation and give the nurse an opportunity to state her case’.

NNSW Health District chief Chris Crawford told ABC radio this morning that he had now issued a directive that no animals, apart from animals specifically used in a health-care context, could be brought onto hospital campuses in the district.

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