HSE staff have been warned not to talk to the media while Lunchtime Live highlights claims of bullying in the health service.
Over the weekend, a healthcare worker contacted the show to say their entire team was told to sign a document on social media use before they started their shift – and warned not to comment on any media platform.
That came after staff at a different hospital were last week warned not to contact radio programmes or go on social media to discuss bullying in the HSE.
Kicking off the show this afternoon, presenter Andrea Gilligan described the email she received.
“I got another email over the weekend from somebody, highlighting the fact that over the weekend, a document was handed out to staff at one hospital,” she said.
“They were told to sign it - their name and date and signature - and told they weren’t to discuss issues - they weren’t to comment - on social media platforms.
“Now, I don’t know if that's related to the discussion we’ve been having here on the show - but it would seem somewhat coincidental, considering we’ve been talking about this on the programme, ongoing for the past week.”
She said the HSE appears to be “running scared” – noting that it has failed to put forward a spokesperson on the topic for six days running.
“We asked the HSE, were they aware that a hospital had asked staff to sign a document pledging that they wouldn’t comment on social media and whether the HSE sanctioned this,” she said.
“I’m waiting still for a response from the HSE to that query today.
“I’m wondering, can they do that? Tell staff not to raise concern about issues and cultural practices?
“A week on now since we started talking about this story, it strikes me that the HSE is running scared. Where are they?”
She said the show has also asked Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and his junior ministers Mary Butler and Hildegarde Naughton to come on the show – but all three are currently unavailable.
"We're not going away"
“So, I am inviting you all again today to join us to talk about this, she said.
“Because we’re going to talk about it today, tomorrow and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and we’re going to keep chatting about it until we get some response from Government and also from the HSE
“We’re going to continue doing that – we’re not going to go away from it.”
Later on the show, People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny called for a full review of the HSE’s anti-bullying protocols.
“If it is this extensive - and it seems to be - the HSE needs to look at their protocols in relation to management and how these issues are addressed,” he said.
“If it is not addressed, then people will leave the health service.”
He said the fact staff feel the need to go public with the issue is telling.
“If people are coming via the media, then there is a bigger issue,” he said.
“You’re talking about an issue where management are not addressing and, in some cases, probably not listening to issues their workers are raising.
“That is an issue with the whole work chain in the health service.”
Lunchtime Live began investigating the issue after listener Kate contacted the show to say she left the health service altogether after being experiencing bullying in two different roles.
She said one of the experiences was “quite severe” and she left the service because it was impacting on her mental health.
In the days since, Lunchtime Live has been inundated with reports of bullying from nurses and healthcare workers in the sector.
Last week, Sinn Féin health spokesperson David Cullinane said he was “very concerned” about the claims – and promised to raise them in the Dáil.
Meanwhile, the INMO said the workplace culture in the HSE “has to change” and urged any health workers who are experiencing bullying to “contact your union”.
The HSE has been contacted for comment and invited to come on the show to discuss claims of bullying.
You can listen back to just some of the HSE bullying reports aired on Lunchtime Live here:
You can also listen back to Gino Kenny here: