Complaints to HSE over treatment of vulnerable adults surge

Independent whistleblowing service received 220 contacts, an 85 per cent increase on 2015

The HSE’s independent confidential recipient Leigh Gath. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.

The HSE’s independent confidential recipient Leigh Gath. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.

 

Complaints to the independent whistleblowing service for the HSE’s treatment of vulnerable adults almost doubled last year.

However, the number of complaints alleging abuse to independent confidential recipient Leigh Gath dropped, her second annual report shows.

Ms Gath was appointed in December 2014 after the HSE published a policy on safeguarding vulnerable people at risk of abuse.

Last year, she received 220 concerns and complaints, of which 199 have been “closed out”, according to the report.

This represents an 85 per cent increase over 2015 but there was a reduction in the number of safeguarding concerns from 54 to 41.

These included allegations of physical, sexual, psychological, financial and institutional abuse, as well as neglect and discrimination.

Ms Gath’s role is to receive and examine concerns and to provide help and advice to vulnerable adults, or anyone concerned about a vulnerable adult, in a HSE or HSE funded service.

Eighty per cent of the complaints she received last year related to the social care division of the HSE, while 13 per cent related to mental health services.

Ms Gath said her role was to act as a voice for complainants and to help them navigate the system.

“I have also been contacted by many people simply seeking advice or support, which is encouraging.”