by Jess Casey
Staff in HSE mental health and social care facilities in Cork and Kerry reported more than 110 incidents of workplace bullying and harassment during a 16-month timeframe, at a rate of almost two incidents per week.
Internal documents, released to the Evening Echo under the Freedom of Information Act, show the HSE recorded 112 incidents of workplace bullying, verbal harassment, physical harassment and sexual harassment at community healthcare organisations (CHOs) in Cork and Kerry between January 2016 and April this year.
In total, 46 incidents of verbal harassment were recorded; 28 incidents of bullying; 21 incidents of sexual harassment and 17 incidents of physical harassment.
The rate of physical and sexual harassment reported in Cork and Kerry is “genuinely shocking” according to IMPACT trade union spokesperson Niall Shanahan.
IMPACT represents workers in the HSE, hospitals, mental health facilities and community services.
“The rate of workplace bullying and harassment, as recorded here, is unacceptably high,” Mr Shanahan said. The documents also show that there was 35 incidents of workplace bullying reported by staff in the South/South West Hospital Group during the same timeframe.
This hospital group includes Cork University Hospital (CUH), Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH), Mercy University Hospital (MUH), Bantry General Hospital (BGH) and Mallow General Hospital (MGH) as well as others.
Examples of workplace bullying include constant humiliation, ridicule, belittling, verbal abuse, the spreading of malicious rumours, hostility, reducing a job to routine tasks below the person’s skills without explanation and constantly picking on someone.
In a statement the HSE said it takes work-related aggression and violence very seriously, adding that an employee well-being process, including occupational health service and stress management is available to all staff.
This article first appeared in the Evening Echo