Case Number: ADJ-00000055. Workplace Relations Commission

CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
Docket NumberADJ-00000055
Date23 March 2016
PartiesA Clinical Nutritionist v A Hospital

In accordance with the provisions of the Workplace Relations Act 2015 as relate to the aforementioned complaints/disputes, following the referral of the aforementioned complaints/disputes to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaints/disputes and gave the parties and their witnesses an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaints/disputes.

1. Complainant’s Submission and Presentation:

1.1. Counsel for the Complainant confirmed a change in legal representation and formally withdrew the complaint under Section 7 of the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994. He confirmed that she was only proceeding with a dispute under Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act 1969, received by the Workplace Relations Commission (hereinafter ‘WRC’) on 6th October 2015. I note that there was consent from the Respondent to the investigation of this dispute by an Adjudication Officer. This matter had originally been listed for hearing on 16th December 2015 but had been adjourned.

1.2. Counsel for the Complainant outlined the background to this dispute as follows: The Complainant is employed by the Respondent as a Clinical Nutritionist with the Respondent for the past 10 years. This role requires the assessment of the nutritional needs of patients in varying conditions and with different needs, and the administration of feeding via various means in consultation with the patients’ teams and/or consultants. The Complainant is answerable to the Dietitian Manager Ms X, in respect of whom there is a history of interpersonal differences comprising of Ms X making complaints about her work and counter-complaints from the Complainant against Ms X of bullying and harassment. It appears that none of these complaints have progressed very far in terms of internal investigation.

1.3. A patient (hereinafter ‘Patient A’) was transferred from a regional Hospital in early June 2015 to the Hospital in question. Apart from several short periods of leave, the Complainant was responsible for his nutritional care. Patient A was being treated on a palliative basis, and with the limited information to hand it seems that his medical needs were extremely complicated. Patient A passed away during the second period of the Complainant’s leave and there is no suggestion that this was as a result of his nutritional care. Nor is there any evidence that his family has raised any issue with his care, or indeed are aware of the current situation that pertains to the Complainant in relation to Patient A.

1.4. In or around August 2015, the Complainant was summonsed to Ms X’s Office who handed her an envelope containing an anonymous report entitled ‘Case review 17.08.2015’ (hereinafter ‘clinical review’) and containing a reference number, and was told to respond to its contents. It is agreed by both Parties that this clinical review refers to Patient A and his nutritional care by the Complainant. Aside from that, nothing further is known by the Complainant as to its origins apart from her suspicion that it was generated by or on behalf of Ms X. In particular, there is no confirmation of under what internal or other policy it was conducted, who instigated and/or directed the review, what the terms of reference were, who the investigators were, and/or in what capacity they conducted the review and who was interviewed. The review does not contain any names of anyone involved or the basis for same. It comprises of six typed pages and under six headings, makes numerous findings of fact.

1.5. Upon receipt of the clinical review, the Complainant availed of legal advice and when she did not respond to follow-up demands from Ms X to respond to the contents of the clinical review she found herself subject to the Hospital’s disciplinary process. Notwithstanding various requests for information from her Solicitors, to date no further information pertaining to the origins of the clinical review have been furnished by the Respondent. Instead, the Hospital management pursued its disciplinary process against the Complainant. The clinical review findings were summarised as allegations against the Complainant in a letter dated 13th October 2015 from the Employee Relations Manager, Mr Y, confirming that the Complainant was subject to an investigation under the Hospital’s Grievance and Disciplinary Procedure (also referred to as ‘disciplinary process’) and enclosing a copy of same along with the terms of reference. A more detailed letter dated 25th November 2015 was furnished to the Complainant. Counsel submits that the current investigation process gives the false guise of a neutral investigation and cannot retrospectively remedy a fundamentally...

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