Southmead Hospital staff harassed woman with comments about Polish people

By Conor Gogarty

A former Southmead Hospital worker will receive more than £25,000 after a tribunal found her ex-colleagues made offensive comments about Polish people.

Anna Duralska, who worked in the medicine division, took North Bristol NHS Trust to an employment tribunal, where the judge ruled she was "unlawfully harassed for a reason related to race and/or nationality".

Comments made by Mrs Duralska's co-workers included “no more Polish drama" and "anything for free she will have it", according to the tribunal judgement published on August 24.

READ NEXT: Man caused six-week-old baby brain injury in assault

The trust says it has done "a lot of work on equality and diversity" since the comments were made in 2019. It is "looking at the learning" it can take from the case and will provide "additional training to this specific team".

Judge Catherine Rayner ruled that Mrs Duralska was "constructively and unfairly dismissed". Constructive dismissal means an employee being forced to leave their job against their will because of their employer’s conduct.

The judgement states Mrs Duralska was treated unlawfully on the following occasions:

  • "In February or March 2019 by a remark by Ms Curnock that none of her friends liked foreigners."
  • "In April 2019 by Ms Curnock referring to her husband resigning from work because Polish workers were speaking Polish amongst themselves and told him to start learning Polish if he wanted to speak to them."
  • "In July 2019 Ms Curnock looked at the claimant in an intimidating way whilst she was eating cake. When the claimant left, Ms Curnock said: 'She is a f*****g nightmare, she didn’t pay for the cake. If she did, she would have said. Anything for free she will have it.'"
  • "In July 2019 Ms Curnock made negative comments about Polish people after hearing about a Polish gang trafficking slave workers."
  • "At the end of October 2019 Mr Elmi said “no more Polish drama" when the claimant said they would be working with another Polish worker."

The tribunal heard that Mrs Duralska was "instructed to work on the sixth floor" after returning from time off work, which was judged to be a breach of the Equality Act. She left Southmead Hospital after the trust terminated her fixed-term contract and did not offer a renewal.

Judge Rayner ordered the trust to pay her £25,605.50, including compensation for loss of statutory rights, loss of pension, loss of earnings and injury to feeling.

A North Bristol NHS Trust spokesperson, said: “We will not tolerate any discrimination and are incredibly sorry about some of the incidents this former member of staff experienced. Sadly many were not drawn to our attention until after they left.

“We are committed to developing a just culture across our workforce, and our plans already include relaunching our Red Card to Racism campaign and making sure everyone completes inclusivity and respect training.”

Bristol Live asked the trust why Mrs Duralska was instructed to work on the sixth floor, why her contract was terminated and whether any action has been taken against staff responsible for the unlawful treatment of her.

Want our best stories with fewer ads and alerts when the biggest news stories drop? Download our app on iPhone or Android


What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.