Former nursing body executive takes dismissal case

Deirdre Hogan says she was whistleblower who later had to resign from Nursing and Midwifery Board

A former deputy chief executive of the Nurses and Midwifery Board of Ireland is taking a case for constructive dismissal against the body. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

A former deputy chief executive of the Nurses and Midwifery Board of Ireland is taking a case for constructive dismissal against the body. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The former deputy chief executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland has said she was a whistleblower who raised serious concerns before she had to resign from the organisation.

Deirdre Hogan told the Labour Court that while on secondment to the HSE in 2017, she was informed her position with the board was being discontinued as part of structural reforms.

Ms Hogan is taking a case for constructive dismissal against the board - the regulatory body for nurses and midwives, which maintains there was no dismissal. It says there was no loss of earnings on the part of Ms Hogan and that she had opted to transfer to the HSE on identical terms and conditions.

Having been appointed in June 2001 as deputy chief executive, Ms Hogan said she served as acting chief executive for six months in 2011 and moved to the HSE on secondment in 2014.

She said she terminated her employment with the board in 2017 and continued working for the HSE.

During her time as deputy chief executive, Ms Hogan said she was very much a wingman to the chief executive, carrying out a number of senior roles. She was also board secretary .

Concealed

John Sidebottom, her lay representative at the hearing, said Ms Hogan was a whistleblower who brought serious concerns about the organisation to its then president. He said the president - who was not identified at the hearing - concealed these concerns from the board.

Mr Sidebottom said the board of the organisation had initially supported Ms Hogan but later decided the easier option was to deal with her. He said the board’s behavior had been so unreasonable that Ms Hogan had terminated her employment.

Ms Hogan, in direct evidence, said the “final straw” came in June 2017 when she was told by the then chief executive that her job as deputy chief executive was being discontinued and she would be going back to to a “demotional post” in the organisation. She said her trust in the chief executive and the board was “totally destroyed”.

She said after 16 years she should not have to put up with that type of bullying. Ms Hogan said she had tried to let the organisation know what was going in the Nursing and Midwifery Board. She said three or four senior managers had left the organisation and a number had made complaints in different ways.

Ms Hogan said even if she had not been in a position to move permanently to the HSE she could not have returned to the nursing board. She accepted she had not written a letter of resignation and her move from the board to the HSE on a permanent basis had been seamless.

Opted

Claire Bruton, counsel for the board, rejected Ms Hogan’s claims. She said Ms Hogan had opted to make permanent a secondment to the HSE and had the same terms and conditions. Ms Bruton argued Ms Hogan had experienced no financial loss.

However, Mr Sidebottom said Ms Hogan now had additional expenses in that she had to pay tolls to travel to work in the HSE.

Alan Haugh, deputy chairman of the Labour Court, said the key issue was to establish whether there had been an actual dismissal. He said people left their jobs on a regular basis because they were unhappy.

He said that did not necessarily constitute constructive dismissal under the terms of legislation.

He noted there was no communication from Ms Hogan that put the board on notice that her decision to transfer on a permanent basis to the HSE arose from her concerns.

The court is expected to issue a ruling in the case in the weeks ahead.