Date Released: 31 March 2014
SIPTU will not tolerate the punishment or disciplinary sanctioning of whistleblowers in the Health Service.
In light of concerns raised by some workers following the broadcast on Thursday (27th March) of a Primetime Investigates special on the National Ambulance Service (NAS), SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, has reiterated that the union will support those who highlight malpractice or deficiencies in the Health Service.
He said: “SIPTU does not comment on the cases of individual members. However, on the general issue of whistleblowing in the Ambulance Service I wish to confirm our position. SIPTU Health Division will not tolerate the punishment or disciplinary sanctioning of whistleblowers. We will defend and support members who become the subject of disciplinary proceedings in such circumstances.”
“SIPTU has championed the introduction of whistleblowing legislation which protects those who reveal information which is deemed to be in the public interest. We are aware of several issues in the Health Service which were only addressed after being put into the public domain by Health Service professionals.
He added: “The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) was formally advised in 2010 by the then Chief Ambulance Officer, Robert Morton, that the National Ambulance Service (NAS) was not resourced to meet recommended standards that were in line with international best practice. At that time HIQA was informed that in order to meet these standards the NAS would require an injection of €30 million and 400 additional ambulance professionals.
“The Primetime Investigates programme must be commended for bringing knowledge of the crisis in the Ambulance Service to the attention of the public. In order to address public concerns about ambulance response times, SIPTU members in both the NAS and the Dublin Fire Brigade called for a countrywide capacity review of the Ambulance Service at a hearing of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health in February. Following this hearing the Government stated that such a review would be undertaken.”
“We believe that such a capacity review should have been commissioned by HIQA in 2010. Our members in the Health Service are adamant that such a review will reveal the under resourcing of the service and the negative impact this is having on the public.”