The new HSE chief’s pledge to make tackling bullying one of his ‘top-three priorities’ is a vindication for all the Lunchtime Live listeners that came forward with their stories.
That’s according to Sinn Féin health spokesman David Cullinane who was speaking after HSE chief Bernard Gloster described bullying in the health sector as ‘abhorrent and unacceptable’.
He told the Oireachtas Health Committee that HSE management undergo a “significant amount of training" on managing the grievances that staff might have – but that training needs to be matched by a “parallel change in culture”.
Lunchtime Live has continuously highlighted claims of bullying and harassment in our health service throughout the year.
The show has been inundated with reports of bullying from staff members, with one clinical therapy manager reporting she was warned she would be “stood down” if she did not give in to demands.
Other nurses and healthcare workers detailed stories of how they had to leave the health service altogether.
On the show today, Deputy Cullinane said today’s comments from the HSE chief vindicate all those who came forward.
Commitment from HSE
“I welcome the fact that it is, at last, a recognition that there is a problem so for all of those people who contacted your programme,” he said. “It's a vindication for them.”
The Sinn Féin deputy said today's meeting at the Oireachtas was “certainly an acknowledgement that there is a problem.”
“Of course, there will be instances of bullying, but what's important is the extent of them and what's more important is how the organisation responds,” he said.
Deputy Cullinane said he spoke directly with Mr Gloster on their commitment to rolling out “fresh training” for staff members.
“He made a very interesting point about culture and culture speaks to the human relationships and play dynamics within an organisation,” he said.
“You could argue that culture within the health service refers to lots of different things around how we do things in healthcare – a lack of accountability and transparency at the senior level of management, but also, it can lead to instances of bullying and intimidation.”
Deputy Cullinane said he hopes workers and former works who have experienced bullying feel some form of “vindication”.
“I think if we can ease those pressures and have better working conditions and relationships within the system, that can improve the situation,” he said.
“What I would say to those listening and those who've been through the HSE and have experienced bullying, all I can do is to offer my apologies to them that that's what happened to them.
“What we need to do is to make sure that the processes that are in place are better, that there's learning from what has come out of your own programme and people's experiences.
“I will take the opportunity to have a further discussion directly with Bernard Gloster to try and tease out a bit more of what he means by addressing the culture.
“I think we owe it to all of those people and people going into work in the healthcare space that we make it one of the best places to work.”
HSE Chief Executive Officer Bernard Gloster told the Oireachtas that changing the workplace culture in the HSE is "a very significant focus and one of the top three priorities I’ve set for my tenure as CEO."
“If we don't live by those values and how we treat each other, then we'll probably come up short with staff," he said.
“To any of us, deliberate, intentional, repeated, unfair treatment of anybody would be abhorrent, it certainly would be abhorrent to me.
“People who've had experiences with bullying, there's no doubt it can have a lasting and dreadful impact on them.”
Lunchtime Live has investigated the culture of bullying and harassment in our health service since the beginning of the year.
In January of this year, Sinn Fein's health spokesperson David Cullinane told Lunchtime Live he promised to raise the issue in the Dáil.
A special Oireachtas Health Committee meeting was called in February by Deputy Cullinane, which heard from unions representing workers right across the health service.
View this post on Instagram