National | Employment

Nurse fired for calling vaccines 'murderous' on Facebook

A nurse who was fired after describing the Covid-19 vaccine as "murderous" on her Facebook page has lost an appeal against what she labelled an unfair dismissal.

"I never for one minute thought that my posts on Facebook were wrong or could result in me losing my job. To me, I was just sharing news stories and things and making a few comments myself," she said in submissions to the Employment Relations Authority.

"I certainly do not believe my opinions on any topic affect my ability to work as a specialist palliative care nurse."

Turner said she planned to appeal the decision but otherwise did not want to comment further when Open Justice contacted her this morning.

Amanda Turner was employed by the Wairarapa District Health Board for six years until she was dismissed from her role in April last year after posting comments on Facebook that called into question the validity and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine.

She argued the dismissal was unjustified and had pleaded her case with her employer during several mediations in the month after her posts were sent to the DHB by an unidentified source.

However, she was fired from her role a month later and took the case to the Employment Relations Authority, which said in a decision released this week that the hospital had been justified in dismissing her.

"I conclude that Ms Turner was then the author of her own downfall in how she approached the two disciplinary meetings," David Beck from the ERA noted in his decision.

"Ms Turner sought to vigorously justify her postings and displayed no insight on the content of her postings and any linkage to her professional obligations."

Turner was described in the ERA decision as being "aggressive" during meetings with the DHB and refused to acknowledge that her Facebook posts could have bought the nursing profession into disrepute.

"It is evident that Ms Turner's then high state of anger may have blinded her to any focus on her own conduct," Beck said.

In her submissions to the ERA, Turner said she was aware of the DHB's social media policy but didn't think they extended to private Facebook posts.

"Instead, Ms Turner sought to justify her views and portray herself as the victim," Beck said.

"The problem Ms Turner has, was her failing to reconcile the potential harm of her Facebook postings with her professional obligations and not taking note of the impact of such on her standing in the community.

"I do acknowledge that some of the postings were genuine political comment and otherwise not offensive."

Turner described the process as a "witch hunt" but in further evidence went on to reflect that "with the benefit of hindsight, I would not make those posts again".

Turner, who was not vaccinated against the virus herself, would likely have lost her job when the government mandate requiring nurses to have had their first jab by November last year was introduced.

By the end of November, more than 1400 healthcare workers had missed that deadline and either resigned, were stood down or fired from their roles.

Earlier this year a former nurse and clinical advisor at ACC was fired from her job and can no longer practise medicine after posting online threats against medical professionals involved in the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

In a video posted on social media she called on the Prime Minister, the Covid-19 Response Minister and the director-general of health to "cease and desist" in the rollout of the vaccine for 5-to-11-year-olds.

Open Justice