201711.02
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Sexual Harassment Claims Made by Healthcare Workers Against Patients

Five members of staff employed in the State healthcare system took sexual harassment claims over the last number of years, claiming they were assaulted by service users, according to details in a report published by RTE in November.

The State Claims Agency has not released specific details about where the alleged abuse happened in these or any other individual cases. The claims relate to incidents that took place between 2012 and 2016 and make up almost half of all sexual harassment claims being handled by the State Claims Agency for the State.

Up until recent days the Agency had declined to release any information on such claims. There have been calls from Fianna Fail and the Oireachtas Justice Committee for the State Claims Agency to publish a detailed breakdown of all sexual harassment claims made against individual public sector bodies. This comes after the initial refusal by the State Claims Agency to publish such a breakdown, by employer and sector, of all the sexual harassment claims which it handles on behalf of the State.

Additionally, The Oireachtas Justice and Equality Committee wrote, in November, to Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan asking him to back a call for the data to be released for public consumption. Following this the State Claims Agency released a limited amount of information on the number of such claims. However, it did not say where the claims arose from specifically.

In a statement released to the media it said that the State Claims Agency has handled 11 claims of sexual harassment in the workplace, which it said was “referable to three State Authorities, inclusive of all Delegated Healthcare Agencies, in the years 2012 to 2016”.

It also revealed that in six of the cases they’ve handled the alleged assailant and victim are both staff members. In the other five cases they said the person believed responsible for the assault was a service user in the healthcare area and the victim was a member of staff.

The State Claims Agency (SCA) commented “The claims that the SCA handle, of this nature, are claims which are wholly or mainly ones seeking compensation for injury (mental or physical).”

“We also need further information on the manner in which the SCA deals with such claims, how many of the cases end up in court, full details of all the costs incurred and whether the State seeks to recoup any of these costs from the alleged assailant.”