Hundreds of health workers in the North West were due to go on strike for the second time in two weeks over the suspension of a trade union activist.

Manchester mental health and social care trust Unison branch chair Karen Reissman was suspended in June from her job as a psychiatric nurse.

Unison claims she was targeted for publicly criticising a planned reorganisation of mental health services that it says would lead to job losses.

Unison North West branch development officer Neal Linsky told HSJ: 'Karen has a right to speak up on behalf of the members and about the service.'

Suspending her was like using 'a sledgehammer to crack a nut', he said.

The trust has refused to state the reasons for Ms Reissman's suspension but is holding an inquiry until 16 September.

A spokesperson said: 'In spite of the fact that there has been much misrepresentation of this case, the trust cannot and will not respond by falling into the trap of conducting a private employment matter in public.'

Around 250 people staged pickets at four sites across Manchester on Wednesday last week, with further strikes on Thursday and Friday and a rally in the city centre.

A further strike was expected at three Manchester sites next week.

The trust, which is currently in turnaround, was deemed to be providing the third worst community services in the country by a July Healthcare Commission report.

On 15 August the trust's medical director Frank Margison resigned. No reason was given for the move.

In August Unison's North West members had voted by a margin of seven to one to hold a strike over Ms Reissman's suspension.

They will consider taking further industrial action if the mental health nurse is not reinstated.