Dawn Saunders describes the last 18 months as "the worst in my life".

"I wouldn't believe what's happened to me if someone else had told me about it," she added.

Ms Saunders, who lives in Auchendinny near Penicuik in Midlothian, joined NHS Borders as its head of audiology more than two years ago, having previously worked at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde for around eight years.

Read more: Senior staff warn patients being put at risk at Borders General 

The department specialises in diagnosing and treating hearing loss and balance disorders, and carrying out tests that will inform decisions relating to ordering scans or recommending patients for surgery.

Their work can also lead to the detection of tumours in patients' ear canals.

However, she said she was surprised by the "backward" culture in the department.

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She said: "It's not as modern as other health boards. It's quite obvious that people have been there for a long time, and potentially things have been allowed to slip because of that.

"At first I thought, it's just the typical kind of place where nothing's been brought up in relation to modernisation, but it didn't seem like a huge task."

Ms Saunders said she became the target for false and malicious complaints by staff members when she tried to challenge competency issues, resulting in a series of investigations into her own conduct including one by counter-fraud into claims she had given her mother an out-of-contract hearing aid.

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She was repeatedly cleared of wrongdoing, but has now been suspended for the past 10 months and does not expect to be reinstated.

The current list of complaints include allegations that she shouted at a staff member in the corridor, texted a team member at 3am - something she denies - and that "the way Dawn puts down her handbag sets the tone for the day".

Her fellow whistleblower, senior audiologist Sarah Doggett, is also currently suspended over allegations that she doctored patient records - something Ms Saunders said Ms Doggett "absolutely categorically has not done".

Senior audiologist Beverley Herne, the third signatory, is off sick with stress.

Read more: NHS Highland clinicians blast 'culture of fear and intimidation' they say is 'silencing' concerns over patient care

Ms Saunders says their lives have been made a misery because they challenged how things were being done, adding that the situation is "massively unfair" for Borders patients.

She said: "Patient care does not come at the forefront of this organisation because if it did we wouldn't be evidencing a whistleblowing complaint which showed detriment to children and vulnerable adults and see nothing done about it for the best part of 18 months.

"We perforated a man's eardrum through sheer incompetence and again, the individuals involved in that - to date - have not been spoken to. We've not followed the adverse response policy - they've done nothing.

"The impact of a perforated eardrum can be quite significant, it may require surgery. The reason he ended up with a perforated eardrum was because they gave him intra-membrane injections for something that he didn't have.

"The man was experiencing hearing loss and a basic audiologist with about a year's service should know the tests for that.

"We've evidenced in excess of 100 cases of poor clinical practice and this organisation has an excuse for everything."

She added: "Some of the audiologists were trained before I was born and they've had no retraining, so there may be a very good reason why a competency problem exists. But the health board has a duty of care to fix it.

"Something really severe could happen to a patient, and if it does the organisation will blame the staff.

"I've got no doubt if something went wrong, that's what would happen - they're not going to take accountability for failing to respond to whistleblowing."

NHS Borders denies victimising whistleblowers and said patients are not at risk.