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Cork University Hospital Faces Controversy Over Alleged Inaction Against Racist Employee Targeting Indian Nurses

Cork: Despite serious allegations of racism and disrespect towards Indian nurses, Cork University Hospital (CUH) is under scrutiny for its apparent reluctance to take decisive action against an employee accused of perpetuating discriminatory behavior. CUH Chief Executive Officer, David Donegan, has twice written to the management urging the removal of the accused individual, yet the hospital management has allowed the employee to persist in their role.

In a third letter addressed to the director of the nursing and midwifery planning and development unit of CUH, CEO Donegan has escalated the matter, calling for a resolution on whether to suspend or dismiss the employee accused of racial slurs.

The pertinent section of the letter reads:
“The CEO has again written a letter demanding dismissal while the complaint regarding the disrespectful treatment of Indian nurses is being investigated. He expresses concern over the accused employee’s continued participation in the adaptation programme for nurses, deeming it inappropriate. Donegan emphasises his duty as CEO to ensure the welfare of hospital staff, citing the seriousness of allowing the accused individual to remain in service.”

Despite the serious charges, the accused employee is reported to be actively participating in the adaptation program for nurses, prompting the CEO to address this issue as a significant lapse in hospital management.
The situation dates back a year, with 29 nurses collectively submitting a petition to the management, citing the senior staff member’s alleged misconduct and racial discrimination. However, the management did not acknowledge the collective complaint, instructing the nurses to file individual complaints. Three Indian nurses later lodged complaints with the former CEO, Gerard O’Callaghan, in August 2022, but no action was taken for a year.

Management, in response to complaints reported to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI), dismissed the allegations as misinterpretations and pledged to enhance the adaptation program. The NMBI further revealed the recruitment of a senior manager to focus on employee welfare and programme implementation.

The accused employee is alleged to have engaged in racial abuse, including derogatory comments about Indian nurses’ hygiene practices, motivations for working in Ireland, and accusations of spreading COVID-19. Previous incidents in the 2021 adaptation programme saw the employee mocking Indian nurses and insulting them in the presence of colleagues.

The CEO’s recent directive raises questions about the management’s commitment to addressing the issue, highlighting the need to await further developments in the implementation of the CEO’s orders.

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