Complaints by HSE over ‘Liveline’ upheld by broadcasting authority

RTÉ Radio’s Liveline has been severely criticised by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland for the way it covered the termination of a patient advocate’s contract.

Two Liveline shows broadcast last January highlighted the case of Louise Bayliss, who was made redundant by the Irish Advocacy Network (IAN).

Ms Bayliss claimed that her contract had been terminated as a result of her whistleblowing on a situation that arose in St Brendan’s Mental Health Facility in Grangegorman, Dublin, before Christmas 2011.

She claimed she had been let go as a result of pressure on the IAN by the HSE.

The BAI upheld complaints by the HSE that the programme’s treatment of issues surrounding Ms Bayliss’s contract was not fair, objective, or impartial to all interests. It pointed out that Ms Bayliss, the IAN, and RTÉ now accepted that the HSE had no part in the removal of Ms Bayliss as a trainee advocate for the IAN.

The HSE’s complaint concerned Liveline shows broadcast on Jan 19 and 20, where the focus was on Ms Bayliss’s contract.

The health authority complained that the two shows incorrectly and unfairly gave the impression that the HSE had put pressure on the IAN to end Ms Bayliss’s contract.

The HSE claimed it was given insufficient time to respond to the issue on Jan 19 and that RTÉ was in breach of the Broadcasting Act in not corroborating the facts or taking into account the views of the HSE.

It also accused Liveline presenter, Joe Duffy, of showing considerable bias in the way he presented the programme.

In its response to the BAI, RTÉ claimed every attempt was made by the production team to engage with the HSE to elicit a response to events.

However, the BAI said programme-makers should have shown far greater caution in the handling of the matter when it was aired.

The authority said the lack of fairness, objectivity and impartiality was compounded by the inclusion of a range of listener views.

The BAI found the HSE was given enough time to appear on the second show broadcast on Jan 20.

However, it found that the treatment by Mr Duffy of the statement provided by the HSE, and listener contributions, reinforced the lack of fairness, objectivity, and impartiality that was evident when the previous day’s programme was aired.

It said the second programme did not have due regard to new information provided by the HSE.

Meanwhile, the High Court has confirmed a decision by the Medical Council to strike off a doctor who emailed photographs and personal medical information about one of his patients to Liveline in Sept 2010.

Last December, the Medical Council decided to cancel Dr Laszlo Ruscsak’s registration after he was found guilty of professional misconduct and poor professional performance by its fitness to practise committee for failing to provide satisfactory patient aftercare and for disclosing confidential patient information.


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