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Sturrock Review Into Bullying At NHS Highland

10th May 2019

The Full Sturrock Review Can read HERE

The Scottish Government Full Response To the Review Can Be Read HERE

Response to Sturrock Review on NHS Highland.

A summit will be held this summer to consider what more can be done to promote positive workplace practices across the NHS.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman made the announcement as part of a package of measures in response to John Sturrock QC's report into allegations of bullying and harassment in NHS Highland.

In a statement to parliament, Ms Freeman restated that bullying and harassment has no place in the NHS and that NHS Highland should immediately consider how the report's recommendations should be applied.

The summit will bring together the leadership of NHS boards, staff and trades unions, royal colleges and professional and regulatory bodies. It will look at what more can be done to support open and honest workplace cultures and to deliver improved behaviours among leadership and management at all levels of the health service.

Other measures outlined today include:

• dedicated Whistleblowing Champions recruited to every health board by the end of 2019

• the introduction of legislation to allow the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to take on the role of Independent National Whistleblowing Officer for NHS Scotland by summer 2020

• the Health Secretary writing to all NHS boards to ensure they reflect on and learn from the findings of the Sturrock Review

Ms Freeman said:

"I believe passionately in the NHS Scotland values of care and compassion, dignity and respect, openness, honesty, responsibility, quality and teamwork and I know that staff in NHS Highland believe passionately in those values too. Our collective belief in these values is critical to our capacity to deliver the safe, effective person-centred care people deserve. But I also know that belief in these values has to be evidenced by behaviours that reflect these values.

"NHS Highland has many caring, supportive, diligent and highly-skilled staff. But this extensive review has identified a number of significant cultural issues that have contributed to actual and perceived behaviour in NHS Highland that does not reflect these values.

"That can neither be acceptable nor allowed to continue. So now we need to engage constructively with the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the review, reflecting that, as John Sturrock points out, there are also a number of staff whose personal experience of working in NHS Highland is not one of a bullying culture and who have equally legitimate concerns that need to be heard and taken account of.

"So whatever else we may do, it is absolutely right that staff in NHS Highland are at the centre of that engagement and dialogue. That is the only way to secure the sustainable restoration of trust and shared purpose that is essential to a positive working culture. So I now require the board and wider leadership of NHS Highland to carefully consider this report and actively engage with staff - at every level - to consider the conclusions and recommendations and how these can be positively applied."

David Stewart MSP On Causes Of Bullying At NHS Highland -

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP and Labour's Shadow Health Minister, David Stewart, says the Sturrock review shines a light on the possible causes of the pressures encountered by front line staff.

He highlights a section in the report on possible causes of bullying and harassment in the NHS and he accuses the Government of taking health service staff for granted for far too long.

Although Sturrock says there are multiple causes of the symptoms, detailed in the report, he touches on increased pressure to perform and meet targets.

Sturrock says: "...over the past ten years in times of austerity, with budget restrictions and reduced spending, financial constraints can often lead to people feeling overwhelmed at work with too much to do and not enough time or resource. This is likely to cause stress and may lead to behaviour which is inappropriate. I have heard a number of examples of this, with senior and other employees at breaking point."

Mr Stewart said: "There is no doubt that austerity is harming our public services and Sturrock shines a light on what the result can be - staff being bullied and harassed due to financial constraints being placed on them.

"While nothing excuses bullying in the work place, this factor has to be seriously looked into.

"I think most people will see the results of pressure in their work place, but add to this growing staff shortages in the health service, and particularly in NHS Highland, and a picture is building of the possible effect on staff and managers' behaviours."

In Parliament yesterday Mr Stewart's Labour Highlands and Islands colleague, Rhoda Grant, raised concerns that problems within NHS Highland, and throughout the Scottish health service, were fed by staff shortages and cuts putting enormous pressure on staff.

She asked Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, how she was going to tackle this but Ms Freeman did not accept that a significant proportion of difficultly was around the financial resourcing of the boards.

Mrs Grant said today: "Our health service is in crisis and the SNP Government are in denial and have dragged their feet about tackling problems created by austerity. It's time they took their heads out of the sand."

Sturrock was told from one employee: "Austerity has been a major factor. The NHS was used to solutions made out of additional investment from Government. When this becomes no longer possible, the pressure within the entire NHS system increased."

One director told Sturrock: "As a senior leader I have felt bullied and harassed by the organisation, by the Scottish Government. What I do believe is that in the NHS now people are feeling so pressurised. It's a horrible environment. It's targets. It's finance. It's political. Populist policies don't have the resources to fill them. NHSH is just one health board of many that are suffering."

Mr Stewart added: “NHS staff are the bedrock of our health service, but they have been taken for granted by the Government for too long.

“To see real change in the working environments and culture across health and social care, health boards and the Scottish Government need to address the systemic issues that are causing health and care professionals to become disillusioned and burnt out."

Mr Stewart said he would be raising these issues as a member of the Health and Sport Committee and with Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman.

After Ms Freeman’s statement on the Sturrock review yesterday Mr Stewart told MSPs: “NHS Highland is my home board area. I have dealt with the board for over 20 years in two Parliaments, from the chief executive and boards members, to cleaners and patients. No amount of experience prepared me for the GMB organised event in the autumn of last year. Over 60 people attended who spoke with one voice on the toxic culture of bullying within the organisation. Can the Cab Sec outline what new system can be put in place for all those who lost jobs, who left jobs and who suffered mental health problems. We must never forget their experience.

Mr Stewart also asked Ms Freeman what assessment had been made of the effect bullying had had on the credibility of NHS Highland and its ability to recruit and retain staff.

The Full Sturrock Review Can read HERE

The Scottish Government Full Response To the Review Can Be Read HERE

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