Health board apologises to staff over bullying

NHS Highland has apologised “unreservedly” to staff who were not treated properly after a review of bullying allegations suggested hundreds of workers experienced inappropriate behaviour.

The independent investigation was commissioned by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman in November after concerns were raised by a group of senior clinicians at the health board.

The report by John Sturrock QC, published earlier this month, found that a “significant majority” of the 340 people who engaged with the review said they are currently experiencing, or have done in the past, fear, intimidation and inappropriate behaviour at work.

It also found many people feel unable to speak out about the issue and believe there is no safe mechanism for them to do so.

In a statement read to the NHS Highland board meeting on Tuesday, Boyd Robertson, interim chairman of the health board, said it fully accepts the recommendations in the report and will ensure that the issues it raises are addressed.

He said: “As a Board we would like to express our gratitude to John Sturrock and to all of those who contributed to the report. The report finds that bullying or inappropriate behaviour has occurred within NHS Highland and we apologise unreservedly to those members of staff who have not been treated according to the high standards we expect.

“The board acknowledges that there were shortcomings in the way it dealt with the issues raised and will reflect upon how it must improve.”

He added: “The Board will provide assurance and take full responsibility for ensuring that the issues raised in the report are addressed and that we will lead by the same constructive, respectful and compassionate approach we expect others to follow.

“In the coming months, the Health Board will focus on healing, reconciliation and building a positive culture based upon care and compassion, and dignity and respect for everyone.

“Values such as openness, honesty and responsibility will underpin an approach which will also deliver quality care and team-working.”

In its recommendations, the report said a strategic vision is needed for boards with a programme of training for staff and managers.

It also called for effective facilities to be introduced to allow those wishing to speak out to do so.

Mr Boyd said that the report is currently being carefully considered and an initial draft action plan prepared.

He said that the board will consult with a wide range of staff groups and external stakeholders to ensure that, in taking action, it represents as broad a spectrum of views as possible.