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Compensation package for victims of bullying at NHS Highland announced by Scottish Government

By Staff Reporter

Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart.
Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart.

The Scottish Government has set out a funding package of £1.03 million to compensate and care for victims of bullying and harassment at NHS Highland.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman confirmed the figure in response to a Parliamentary Question lodged by Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart, who is also Labour’s shadow public health minister.

The cash will be made available up until March 31, 2021, with Ms Freeman saying: “This will support the delivery of NHS Highlands’ healing process commitments.”

Claims of a bullying culture within NHS Highland were made by whistle-blowing medics in September 2018. It was followed by an independent review which prompted the health board to commit to making changes.

News of the funding was welcomed by Mr Stewart as he has been pursuing answers on how much cash the health board would get and what processes people can use to lodge their cases.

He said: “It is good that the government has finally revealed the figure which is substantial and shows just how many people they expect to come forward and how much support it is felt those people need.

“I realise that Covid-19 will be extremely challenging for the health authority, but the fact that the government has moved to help fund this process will be of some comfort to current and former staff and will hopefully cover claims for compensation.

“I hope this will mean the system will be more robust and able to give those coming forward confidence that it will be independent from the health authority and able to look anew at each individual case.”

Previously, Mr Stewart was told that NHS Highland had not applied to the Scottish Government for funding to set up a compensation scheme, but Ms Freeman said the money was made available “in accordance with NHS Highland’s financial request”.

Brian Devlin, a former communications officer with NHS Highland, said: “I welcome this announcement very much indeed.

“Health minister Jeane Freeman promised victims of bullying that they would receive bespoke and individualised packages of care and access to settlements. This announcement makes that much easier.”

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