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19 July 2023 - Press Release 'IASW Speaks Up: Three Years on; why is the HSE still querying the need for file reviews in the Emily Case?'

Social Work Speaks Up: Three Years on; why is the HSE still querying the need for file reviews in the Emily Case? 

The Irish Association of Social Workers note the publication today of the Executive Summary of the National Independent Review Panel investigation into the Emily case and a HSE management summary of some of the issues which emerged in the Safeguarding and Protection Social Work Team Review. 

The thoughts of the IASW are first and foremost with the residents and families impacted by this case and those staff who supported them through their harrowing experience. 

IASW remains deeply concerned about the support provided to safeguarding social workers when carry out safeguarding assessments and reviews. In 2021, the Brandon report advised that ‘The NIRP found evidence that the HSE on occasion disregarded the advice and guidance offered by the safeguarding and protection team in terms of how serious safeguarding concerns should be dealt with.’ 

On behalf of the IASW, Academic Advisor Dr Sarah Donnelly advises ‘Despite the fact that the public were promised safeguarding lessons were learned in the aftermath of the Brandon report, the IASW continue to receive reports from social workers in a variety of roles within the HSE who report that their expert safeguarding advice is disregarded by senior managers with less expertise, in terms of how safeguarding concerns, including reviews are handled. It is imperative that we now establish if the advice and guidance of the Safeguarding and Protection Social Work team was followed in the Emily case at all times by HSE CHO and national management.’ 

IASW note that among other responsibilities, Jackie McIlroy is tasked with a review of both reports and to clarify if a further examination of individual records is required to identify past harm. 

Dr Donnelly continues, ‘It is extraordinary and deeply concerning that over three years since the rape of a resident, the HSE is still making decisions about whether additional files of residents must now be reviewed to identify past harm. It remains unclear what percentage of files of residents to whom Mr. Z had access have been reviewed, or even if the files of all residents living in the home in 2020 have been reviewed.’ 

Safeguarding social workers are trained to understand the essential requirement for a full file review when abuse occurs within a care setting and routinely provide advice on this to the HSE. The question is whether, post Brandon case, the HSE listened to their own expert safeguarding teams. 

We must now establish if the HSE’s own expert Safeguarding and Protection team requested to examine further individual residents’ records to identify past harm during the course of their review and whether HSE management supported or disregarded this request.’ 

IASW continues to ask, where does the buck stop for accountability for adult safeguarding in the HSE? 

It is time now for the Government to listen to IASW, Safeguarding Ireland, Age Action, Care Champions, and others and urgently introduce adult safeguarding legislation to better vindicate the rights and protection of adults at risk of abuse in our care settings and communities.

IASW Spokesperson: Dr. Sarah Donnelly on 087 9336054