HSE to pay €30,000 to nurses over delay in publishing bullying claims report

‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ says Workplace Relations Commission officer

Shay Henry said 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. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Shay Henry said 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. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

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 the rulings by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), adjudication officer, Shay Henry stated 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 has ordered that two nurse managers who lodged complaints should receive €6,000 each from the HSE and a further six nurses should receive €3,000 each for the failure by the HSE to publish the report.

Mr Henry stated, “justice delayed is justice denied” and added that 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 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, 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.

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

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”.

The INMO stated: “The latitude given by the respondent to the alleged perpetrator is equally extraordinary.” The INMO further argued that in giving the alleged perpetrator such latitude, the HSE 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, the person in turn made serious allegations, against the complainants. The INMO claimed these complaints are vexatious.

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

In response to the complaints, the HSE acknowledged that considerable time had elapsed since these 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.”