Sinn Fein's health spokesperson has promised to raise claims of bullying in the HSE in the Dáil.
Over the past few days, Lunchtime Live has been inundated with reports of bullying in the health service from nurses and healthcare workers.
It came after listener Kate contacted the show to say she left the health service altogether after being experiencing bullying in two different roles.
The sheer volume of reports that have come into the show in the days since has left host Andrea Gilligan ‘gobsmacked’ – leaving her with one question: How is nobody talking about this?
On the show this afternoon, Sinn Féin health spokesman David Cullinane promised to raise the issue in the Dáil.
“There is a duty of care obviously on behalf of the HSE to all those healthcare professionals,” he said.
“From my perspective, I certainly will raise this again at the Oireachtas Health Committee and in the Dáil with the Minister for Health to ensure that the procedures that are in place are robust, that they’re working and that they engage again with the INMO and other bodies to ensure that, if they need to be reviewed, that they are.”
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Deputy Cullinane said HSE management has not received training in how to deal with bullying and harassment for seven years - and said a new system of ongoing training must be introduced.
He said he is “not satisfied” with the HSE’s response to the claims.
“Of course there are policies and procedures in place – the question is, are those policies and procedures working and do people feel they are getting the support they need?
“Quite evidently, from all of the emails presented to your programme, that is not the case."
Deputy Cullinane said he has been approached by health workers on the issue before but wasn’t aware of the full extent of it.
“I have heard anecdotally of allegations of harassment and bullying," he said.
"I wasn't aware of the full extent of it and I was very concerned when I was contacted by your programme and I heard some of the testimonies,” he said.
"Robust procedures and policies"
He said the HSE has previously assured him that there are “very robust procedures and policies in place” to deal with workplace bullying – but said they may need to be reviewed.
“We have, obviously, the hospital overcrowding again over the last number of weeks and months – that all leads to the pressures and can lead to circumstances where there is harassment or bullying,” he said.
“What we need to do is ensure that people are being listened to and that people are being heard; that when complaints are made, they are getting fair process and procedure.”
The Sinn Féin TD said bullying must not be tolerated in any workplace.
“Bullying and harassment can have a huge impact and if you are someone who is a nurse or a junior doctor or a healthcare assistant and you go into a very busy hospital, with all of the stresses and strains that that job brings anyway, in a really highly pressurised work environment, and you are being bullied or harassed on top of that, it can obviously have a huge impact on the mental health and the wellbeing of that staff member,” he said.
In a statement, the HSE said it takes all allegations of bullying and harassment seriously.
It said the dignity of its employees is “of the utmost importance” and its policies offer both the complainant and the person the complaint has been made against, “fair and due process”.
You can listen back to Deputy Cullinane here:
You can listen back to some more of the stories shared with Lunchtime Live here: