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HSE to pay €30,000 to nurses over 'stress caused' by delay in publishing report into bullying claims

The order was made by the Workplace Relations Commission.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

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

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

He also said that “justice delayed is justice denied” and that the latitude afforded to the person, a senior nurse manager against whom the complaints of bullying were made was “excessive”.

Henry said that this “compounded the stress” for the eight nursing staff which earlier delays had caused.

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

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

Henry said that that 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, he said: “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.”

‘Extraordinary’ latitude

The INMO told the WRC that there is no doubt but a timeframe of five and a half years without a final report issuing following the submission of serious complaints “is extraordinary and unacceptable”.

In a statement, the union said: “The latitude given by the respondent to the alleged perpetrator is equally extraordinary.”

It further argued that in giving the alleged perpetrator such latitude, the HSE has 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.

In addition, it said that when the alleged perpetrator responded to the original complaints, she made serious allegations, against the complainants.

The INMO claim that these complaints are vexatious but until the final report is issued these vexatious complaints remain unaddressed and affords no redress to the complainants.

It also claimed that the HSE has acted contrary to all best practice and contrary to its own policies and procedures.

And it stated that for this to go without any consequence, it would be grossly biased against the complainants and indeed, make a complete mockery of the HSE continued contention that they are fair employers and that they demonstrate equality and due process in all investigations.

Complex investigation

In response to the complaints, the HSE acknowledged that considerable time had elapsed since the complaints were first lodged.

The HSE told the WRC that this was due to the complexity of the complaints, which initially involved 14 different complainants and subsequently to a number of issues raised by the person against whom the complaints were made.

It stated: “These included an allegation of bullying against a member of the Investigation Team which had to be investigated before the investigation into the complaints made by the complainant in this case could be finalised.”

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Gordon Deegan

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