Wednesday 13 December 2017

Whistleblower fired from her job 'has no regrets'

Edel O'Connell

A WHISTLEBLOWER who lost her job just weeks after revealing psychiatric patients were being forced into a locked unit over Christmas said she could not have "slept at night" if she hadn't spoken out.

A government TD and public representatives are calling for an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of Louise Bayliss, an advocacy worker who was told last week her contract with the Irish Advocacy Network (IAN) was being terminated after just three months.

Ms Bayliss from Blanchardstown, Co Dublin, spoke out in December after she discovered that female patients at St Brendan's Psychiatric Hospital, Grangegorman, north Dublin, were being moved to a "lock-up" ward for Christmas.

But after her story appeared in the media, Ms Bayliss wasn't allowed to return to the HSE wards as an advocate worker on behalf of mentally ill patients.

Louise has since lost her job with the IAN, which is part-funded by the HSE.

Ms Bayliss had three months left on her contract with IAN but she said the organisation told her it did not have the time to train her any more and she would no longer be required.

She said a manager in the advocacy network told her the HSE no longer wanted her on wards in hospitals, something the HSE strongly denies.

Ms Bayliss said she didn't regret speaking out.

"I don't regret what I said. Obviously I wish I didn't lose my job and its financial implications are very worrying, but I just couldn't have slept at night if I hadn't spoken out," she said.

Martin Rogan, HSE assistant national director for mental health, denied yesterday that the HSE had any involvement in the decision to terminate Ms Bayliss's contract.

And IAN said any suggestion that Ms Bayliss had been dismissed over her contact with the media was "completely unfounded".

However, Fine Gael's Derek Keating said Ms Bayliss should be invited to speak to the Oireachtas committee on Health and Children.

"I believe the inquiry I've called for should start in the Oireachtas," he said, adding that the IAN must be made to answer a number of questions.

Labour's Joe Costello also raised concerns over the dismissal. "The HSE should ensure that if her dismissal was linked to whistle-blowing on patients' care, she should be reinstated," he said.

Irish Independent

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