Thursday 22 March 2018

Whistleblower in psychiatric unit row gets job back

Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

THE WHISTEBLOWER who revealed that psychiatric patients had been moved to a closed unit for Christmas has been given her job back.

Louise Bayliss has been reinstated to her role at the Irish Advocacy Network (IAN) after her employers admitted they hadn't trained her properly.

IAN said she could not be blamed for breaching their code of practice when she spoke publicly in December about patients at St Brendan's Hospital in Grangegorman who were being moved to a 'lock-up ward'.

Speaking at a press conference outside Leinster House yesterday, Ms Bayliss, from Blanchardstown, Co Dublin, said she had no regrets about raising the issue as otherwise she would not have been able to sleep at night.

Ms Bayliss learned last week that her contract was terminated with immediate effect by IAN. After her story appeared in the media, Ms Bayliss was not allowed to return to HSE wards as an advocate worker.

But yesterday, IAN admitted that terminating Ms Bayliss's contract and that of a colleague was an "error" and took full responsibility for the mistake. Ms Bayliss and her colleague have been offered a new, six-month training contract.

Colette Nolan, chief executive of IAN, yesterday told the Irish Independent that over Christmas, Ms Bayliss -- an inexperienced staff member -- had broken the network's code of practice.

Ms Nolan claimed the St Brendan's patients had, unknown to Ms Bayliss, already informed a senior staff member that they did not want him to say anything about their situation.

Ms Nolan said that Ms Bayliss had not been properly trained to deal with the situation -- but that this was the fault of IAN.

"What should have happened was, if Louise really felt that she needed to do something, she should have gone to the experienced advocate and discussed with him what was going to happen," she said.

Ms Nolan blamed a change to the training programme for the error. IAN streamlined training costs by running key staff training modules alongside "shadowing" more senior staff. Ms Nolan said it would now go back to the old system whereby staff would complete the initial training before advancing to the shadowing stage.

Fine Gael TD Derek Keating said that the issue would be raised at tomorrow's Oireachtas meeting on health and children.

It was previously alleged that the HSE had applied pressure for the termination, but IAN denied that this was the case.

Yesterday, the HSE repeated the denial, adding that it also had no role in the decision to reinstate the staff members.

Meanwhile, the Irish Independent has learned that Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin plans to publish a draft bill that will protect whistleblowers. A spokesman said yesterday that proposals would be submitted next month.

It comes as a company behind a new whistleblowers' website says the climate is right in Ireland for people to come forward with complaints and it will guarantee their anonymity.

Risk Management International, which includes former Assistant Garda Commissioner Tony Hickey and former Detective Chief Superintendent John McGroarty on its staff, is behind Whistleblower Confidential.

Irish Independent

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