Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health Colm Keaveney TD has called for an independent investigation into the suspension of a psychiatric nurse after he publicly raised concerns about a new psychiatric unit in Cork. Des McSweeney, who is a SIPTU shop steward, was reprimanded after he gave a number of media interviews criticising proposed staffing levels at the new unit.
Deputy Keaveney commented, “The move by HSE to suspend Mr. McSweeney sends out a very sinister message and stands in direct conflict with the Government’s stated claim to protect whistleblowers. What we have here is a psychiatric nurse and union representative who has raised legitimate concerns about staffing levels and has been penalised by management for flagging the issue. This raises serious questions about the efficacy of the legislation introduced to protect such whistleblowers.
“The HSE and Government would appear to be trying to gag Mr. McSweeney for raising reasonable doubts about patient safety at the new facility. This is unacceptable and counter-productive. Instead of shooting the messenger, his managerial and political leaders would be better employed investigating the details of his message and whether there is a risk to patient safety. Minister Kathleen Lynch must intervene and establish the facts of what happened. This has the potential to prevent other potential whistleblowers from coming forward and raising valid concerns and needs to be addressed without delay”.