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Health Matters: Work in aftermath of bullying saga will go on in 2022 after 103 apologies and 203 financial payments made up so far but there is pride in the progress made


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Fiona Hogg.
Fiona Hogg.

NHS Highland’s Director of People and Culture Fiona Hogg gives us her assessment of how things have gone in 2021.

The beginning of a new year is a good time to reflect on the past year. Despite the significant challenges we faced across the year, our culture programme continues to be a key priority and I’m proud of all that has been achieved during 2021.

We are delivering our Healing Process to support those harmed by their experiences of bullying and inappropriate behaviour while working at NHS Highland, which has 283 active participants at time of writing.

We’ve supported healing through our partner Validium, including delivery of 233 assessments, 47 support calls, and with tailored psychological therapies authorised for 172 current and former colleagues.

We also provided 103 apologies which are personally written by our chief executive and 203 financial payments have been made up so far, with 237 people having an outcome from the process, with a further 46 still in progress.

The independent review panel have provided three organisational learning reports, which have been reported to the board and progress is being tracked on the actions.

We continued creating the conditions to speak up and have issues addressed. Our 24/7 independent speak up guardian service supported 195 colleagues from December 2020 to November 2021 and are also supporting our administration and reporting of the whistle-blowing standards, which we launched in April.

Our 24/7 employee assistance programme, run by Validium, engaged with 169 colleagues between January and October 2021, for counselling, advice and support. These confidential and easy to access services have been well received and complement our other routes to raise concerns and be supported.

Listening and learning and living our values is how we describe our culture, and in 2021 we rolled out our first listening and learning survey, with over 4200 colleagues responding and 16,000 individual comments to analyse, and we’re now working on what our colleagues told us.

Listening needs to be always on, so we are following that up with exec visits to key locations – in December we managed a number of face-to-face sessions including Fort William, Wick and Thurso, we are temporarily hosting these online while Covid is so prevalent, but we will restart face-to-face as soon as it is safe.

Supporting our managers in their role is also key to culture. In October, our leadership and management development programme launched for the first cohorts of levels one to four, a total of 72 managers who have already had their induction and initial sessions. We also delivered nearly 1000 sessions of virtual courageous conversations and 389 colleagues took part in the Once for Scotland people policies training. All of these interventions are focused on ensuring our colleagues and their managers have the tools and skills to talk about performance and behaviours at work in a constructive and effective way and to quickly manage problems when they arise.

There’s so much more, but now our focus is on 2022. Our priorities are the wellbeing plan and rolling out ‘civility saves lives’, which are even more important in the current pressured environment, along with work on diversity and inclusion and performance management. So it will be another busy year ahead, building on the progress made in 2021.


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