herald

Wednesday 22 January 2020

HSE must pay €30k to nurses over 5-year-old complaints of bullying

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The HSE has been ordered to pay €30,000 in compensation to eight nurses over its failure to publish a report into their claims of bullying - five-and-a-half years after the complaints were first lodged.

In the rulings by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), adjudication officer Shay Henry said the awards should be paid to compensate the nurses "for the stress caused by the undue delay in bringing the process to a conclusion".

In the eight separate rulings, Mr Henry ordered that two nurse managers who lodged complaints should receive €6,000 each and a further six nurses should receive €3,000 each for the failure by the HSE to publish the report.

Mr Henry said "justice delayed is justice denied" and said the latitude afforded to the person, a senior nurse manager, against whom the complaints of bullying were made, "was in my view excessive".

Mr Henry said this "compounded the stress" for the eight nursing staff which earlier delays had caused.

He said the final report into the bullying claims had not been published at the date of hearing into the cases and should now be published.

Referring to the person who is the subject of the complaints, Mr Henry stated: "Where one party is effectively frustrating the process through raising issues which cause continual delays, at some point there is an obligation on the employer to bring the matters to conclusion."

The case initially involved 14 separate complaints against the HSE concerning the alleged bullying.

Vexatious

The eight nurses were represented by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

The INMO told the WRC that there was no doubt that a timeframe of five-and-a-half years without a final report following the submission of serious complaints "is extraordinary and unacceptable", adding: "The latitude given by the respondent to the alleged perpetrator is equally extraordinary."

It also said that in giving the alleged perpetrator such latitude, the HSE had neglected due care and fair procedure to the complainants, who had an expectation that the HSE would uphold its own policy in dealing with their complaints.

The INMO stated that in addition, when the alleged perpetrator responded to the original complaints, she made serious allegations against the complainants.

It claims these are vexatious but until the final report is issued they remain unaddressed.

The INMO claims the HSE has acted contrary to all best practice and contrary to its own policies and procedures.

The HSE acknowledged considerable time had elapsed since these complaints were first lodged.

This was due to the complexity of the complaints and included an allegation of bullying against a member of the investigation team which had to be investigated first.

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