HSE have formally investigated over 100 complaints of bullying from staff since 2017

HSE have formally investigated over 100 complaints of bullying from staff since 2017

The HSE has carried out more than 100 formal investigations into bullying of staff since 2017.

11 allegations of sexual harassment have also been forwarded to the executive's HR national investigations unit.

The HSE's Dignity at Work policy protects staff from bullying, sexual harassment or harassment, whether it is committed by a work colleague or an outsider, such as a patient or supplier.

After preliminary screening of complaints, the matter may be referred for mediation and, if that is not successful, a formal investigation is carried out.

According to details released under the Freedom of Information Act, 102 complaints of bullying have been forwarded to the HSE's HR national investigations unit since 2017.

There were 30 in 2017, 40 in 2018 and 32 so far this year.

During that time, 11 allegations of workplace sexual harassment have been sent for investigation.

Dr Angela Mazzone from the National Bullying Centre in DCU says international research suggests healthcare systems have one of the highest levels of bullying.

"There are several reasons and one of those could be that healthcare is a very stressful environment," said Dr Mazzone.

"Also, oftentimes healthcare can be very hierarchical so this could be another reason."

She says the most effective way to tackle workplace bullying is to involve staff in the design of intervention programmes.

"If I were carrying out an intervention today I would probably start by interviewing HR and employees and ask them about their own experiences and ask them what they think could be done to improve their situation.

"When we try and bring in a change from the outside it might prompt a defensive reaction so that is why we need to involve the employees in the design of the project."

The HSE says it is committed to maintaining a positive workplace environment that recognises the dignity of all employees.

It says bullying, harassment or sexual harassment is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.

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