Staff Bullying (NHS Highland)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 7th November 2019.

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Photo of Donald Cameron Donald Cameron Conservative

7. To ask the Scottish Government what further progress has been made following the announcement by NHS Highland of an independent review into allegations of staff bullying in Argyll and Bute. (S5O-03733)

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

NHS Highland has published a timetable for that work, which includes the current procurement exercise for an independent specialist to lead the review. It is anticipated that the 12-week review will commence in January 2020 and will conclude in March or April 2020. The format and scope will be informed by extensive partnership discussions.

Photo of Donald Cameron Donald Cameron Conservative

The cabinet secretary will acknowledge that the review is vital given some of the individual testimonies in the Sturrock report, one of which states:

“For staff on the frontline in Argyll and Bute defensive and intimidating behaviour is normal practice that we endure on a daily basis”.

How will the cabinet secretary ensure that the review delivers lasting change in the workplace culture of NHS Highland in Argyll and Bute?

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

I met NHS Highland on Monday as part of its mid-year review and discussed the matter. NHS Highland will conduct the review. I am satisfied that it has taken extensive consultation on the scope, format and length of the review. When the review has been concluded I will take an active interest in its recommendations and, more importantly, in the board’s action plan on how it is going to progress those recommendations—as I have done with the wider Sturrock report. Those actions will become part of the board’s annual operating plan, for the delivery of which they are accountable to me as cabinet secretary.

Photo of David Stewart David Stewart Labour

I, too, welcome the plans for an independent review of alleged bullying in Argyll and Bute. Does the cabinet secretary share my view that it is crucial that there is one point of contact for those who have been bullied or harassed in NHS Highland?

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

I do. That one point of contact might be two—if the member follows my meaning—in that matters in Argyll and Bute are in many ways different from those in the rest of NHS Highland. However, I agree with Mr Stewart that it is important that all front-line staff, whatever their role, know who their single point of contact is. In addition, to assist us in that process, we will shortly have the non-executive whistleblowing champions on boards, who I will appoint personally and who will be directly accountable to me.