A NURSE, dubbed ‘the Angel of the North’ during the pandemic, who now works at Fairfield General, is raising funds for her appeal against being subject to an ‘unjust’ investigation by old bosses.

Leona Harris, from Rossendale, has been at the centre of an investigation by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust after an incident in 2017 in which she potentially saved a patient’s life with a blood transfusion while travelling between Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals, but it was found that the relevant paperwork had been overlooked.

She has since been told by the Nursing and Midwifery Council that she did the right thing and had “no case to answer”, however the dispute with East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has continued and has meant that Mrs Harris and her family have needed to turn to online crowdfunding to continue fighting their case.

Mrs Harris said: “I just want to carry on the fight, its hard they’ve got access to so much more money and its public money.

“It just seems that if you haven’t got enough money to fight then you lose and that’s why so many people walk away, because they can’t afford it.”

She added: “It’s wrong and it needs to change.”

Mrs Harris first came to public attention during the Covid crisis while working as an agency nurse with a campaign to help secure iPads for patients stuck in isolation at Fairfield General Hospital in Bury.

She eventually helped to raise over £70,000 for over 50 hospitals and was hailed as ‘the Angel of the North’ thanks to her efforts.

She was also shortlisted for the Florence Nightingale Nurse of the Year Award and selected to take part in the Blackpool Illuminations virtual switch on.

However, Mrs Harris was shocked to be informed in October 2020 that she had been referred to the NMC by East Lancashire Health Trust for investigation over the 2017 incident. An initial employment tribunal ruled against Mrs Harris in favour of East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.

However, at a later employment tribunal hearing held virtually from the Rolls Building, in London, in January, Judge Katherine Tucker concluded that Mrs Harris had grounds for appeal due to a ‘precipitous referral’, meaning that the trust’s investigation against her had been launched ‘unfairly and prematurely.’

In another boost for Mrs Harris and her family, a letter from the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which the trust had referred her case to, told her last April that she has ‘no case to answer’ in their view.

Mrs Harris is now focused on the next stage of her appeal, which will take place later this year.

She has continued working as a nurse at Fairfield however, the legal costs have been difficult for her and husband Nick to cope with.

Mrs Harris said: “I know things are tight for a lot of people but anything that people can contribute, or even just sharing the appeal, I would be eternally grateful for.”

To find out more, go to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/nurse-leona-asks-for-help.