The whistleblower who raised awareness of plans to keep mental health patients in a locked unit over the Christmas period has been reinstated by her employer, less than a week after being terminated.
Louise Bayliss had made the national airwaves before Christmas when she publicised how a number of mental health patients were to be transferred to St Brendan’s Hospital in Grangegorman for Christmas – where they were to be kept in a locked unit.
The disclosure prompted national outcry and the intervention of government ministers to ensure that the patients were housed more appropriately over the holidays.
Last Wednesday, however, Bayliss was told by her employer the Irish Advocacy Network (IAN) – which acts on behalf of mental health patients – that her six-month contract was being terminated after just three months.
The withdrawal of her contact had prompted further political outcry, with Labour junior minister Joe Costello raising concerns over the dismissal and Fine Gael backbencher Derek Keating calling for Bayliss to be invited to address the Oireachtas health committee.
This morning Bayliss announced that she had been reinstated by the IAN – and insisted she had no second thoughts about any of her actions.
“I don’t regret it,” she said, adding: “I would do it again.”
She added that she hoped her case would give other whistleblowers the courage to come forward and expose abuses in the Irish healthcare system.
Keating, who was alongside Bayliss when she announced her reinstatement outside Leinster House this morning, said her treatment underlined the urgent need for the government to bring in new whistleblowing legislation as soon as possible.
“It is deeply regrettable that an employee could lose his or her position for having spoken out on behalf of vulnerable and voiceless individuals,” Keating said.
“How many more comparable situations are out there? How many good, honest workers are being treated in this way?”
Keating has requested that Bayliss’s difficulties be discussed during a Topical Issues debate in the Dáil this evening.
In a statement the Irish Advocacy Network said it had terminated the training posts of two trainee peer advocates last week, and had since offered to reinstate both of those persons. The other trainee is to meet with the IAN tomorrow.
IAN chief executive Colette Nolan said it had decided to terminate the two posts early last week, but that “after more in-depth and intensive consultation with colleagues in the organisation over the last few days, we realise that we made an error in this regard”.
Nolan insisted that the HSE – which part-funds the IAN – had no role in the decision to let the two trainees go, or in its decision to reinstate them.
“The decision to let the two trainee peer advocates go relates to some shortcomings we identified in our current training programme,” Nolan said.