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Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain calls for Scottish Government to make progress on resolving the issue of bullying at NHS Highland

By Gregor White

Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain.
Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain.

Edward Mountain has called for the Sturrock Report on bullying at NHS Highland to be used as a first step to dealing with the issue

He made the call during a Scottish Parliament members debate today, called by him.

He urged the Scottish Government to appoint Whistle Blowing Champions to each regional health board as a matter of urgency.

The Scottish Government announced in October 2018 that appointments would be made, but applications only opened in August this year he said..

He also spoke about how some former NHS Highland employees felt "managed out" of the organisation as a result of bullying without having had their mistreatment addressed and said he was disappointed that health secretary Jeane Freeman had not secured a debate in government time as was promised when the Sturrock Report was published.

The MSP called for the Scottish Government to hold a debate to ensure a full and frank discussion can be had on the way forward for NHS Highland and the wider lessons for NHS Scotland.

The motion for the debate secured by Mr Mountain stated: "That the Parliament, in light of John Sturrock QC’s report into allegations of bullying and harassment at NHS Highland, commends the courage of all those who have spoken out in this regard and also those who do so throughout NHS Scotland, and notes calls on the Scottish Government to protect and support all those who speak out against bullying and harassment and to ensure that the whistleblowing process is robust and easily accessible."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman earlier insisted it had acted "swiftly and decisively" in terms of moves towards appointing new whistle-blowing champions.

"As the health secretary has made clear, new non-executive whistle-blowing champions will be appointed to every health board in Scotland by the end of this year," she said.

"Interviews for champions will begin next month in an unprecedented appointments exercise, with more than 130 applicants.

"We also continue to strengthen the existing policy, including legislation establishing a new Independent National Whistle-blowing Officer for NHS Scotland, the first role of its kind to be placed on a statutory footing in the UK.

"This work is about more than policies and processes, it is about changing workplace cultures which is why we have brought together the leadership of NHS Scotland to examine how we work towards lasting and meaningful cultural change."

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