HSE whistleblower service receives 43 abuse allegations

Confidential recipient Leigh Gath highlights concerns about people in residential care

Lack of communication between HSE staff and families has also been raised. Photograph: The Irish Times

Lack of communication between HSE staff and families has also been raised. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Forty-three allegations of abuse against vulnerable people in residential care were received by a whistleblower service in the first year of operation, according to its annual report.

The allegations involved claims of physical, sexual, psychological, financial and institutional abuse as well as neglect and discrimination, according to the confidential recipient for the health service, Leigh Gath.

Ms Gath, a prominent disability activist, was appointed in December 2014 after the abuse scandal at the Áras Attracta home in Co Mayo was revealed. Her office operates independently of the HSE.

In its first year, the service received 119 concerns about issues such as safeguarding, client placement, access to equipment, staffing levels, care planning, financial charges, staff behaviour, safety of care and transport.

Lack of communication between HSE staff and families has also been raised, and there were two serious problems where people with disabilities were placed in residential facilities against their will or inappropriately, Ms Gath said.

The report found 64 per cent of concerns were resolved or closed within a month. Of the 106 concerns dealt with in 2015, 58 were investigated, upheld and resolved, while Ms Gath determined no further action was necessary in 32 cases. A small number of cases were passed to other bodies for action.

Ms Gath said her role was to receive concerns and allegation about abuse, negligence, mistreatment or poor care in HSE-run residential facilities from residents, advocates, family members or staff.

She also receives complaints about care planning or arrangements.

“My role is to act as a voice for the complainant and help them navigate the system. By passing the concern on to the relevant person I further ensure that the HSE reviews or investigates appropriately within agreed timelines,” she said.