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Highland MSP to lead a debate on bullying at NHS Highland

By Scott Maclennan

At a GMB Union meeting on NHS Highland bullying. Pictured (left to right), MSP David Stewart, Dr Iain Kennedy, MSP Edward Mountain and GMB NHS lead Gavin Smith..
At a GMB Union meeting on NHS Highland bullying. Pictured (left to right), MSP David Stewart, Dr Iain Kennedy, MSP Edward Mountain and GMB NHS lead Gavin Smith..

Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain is to lead parliamentary debate on bullying later today amid ongoing concerns not enough is being done from stopping such a thing happening again.

Mr Mountain believes the member’s debate is a necessary step as he feels the Scottish Government needs to enact more “preventative measures” against harassment of staff at the health board.

Among the measures not acted on is the appointment of whistle-blowing champions – a move announced last October yet few if any have been appointed.

The move for a member’s debate was supported across party lines by fellow Highland MSPs John Finnie from the Greens and Scottish Labour’s Rhoda Grant and David Stewart.

The motion called for the parliament to commend “the courage of all those who have spoken out” across NHS Scotland.

It also demanded the government “protect and support all those who speak out against bullying and harassment and to ensure that the whistle-blowing process is robust and easily accessible.”

“Today, I am leading a Members’ Debate on the issue of bullying and harassment in NHS Highland because this Scottish Government still haven’t delivered on their promise to have a full debate on the Sturrock Report,” he said.

“It’s been almost a year since senior clinicians blew the whistle on widespread bullying within NHS Highland and there are growing concerns that the Scottish Government are not doing enough to prevent this from happening again.

“For example, the Scottish Government promised last October that they would appoint whistleblowing champions to each health board and who answer directly to the Health Secretary, but I am not aware that any candidates are in place.

“NHS Highland have already appointed a new whistle-blowing champion, but we also need Scottish Government appointed whistle-blowing champions to be in place too.

“The Scottish Government also need to identify those that have been ‘managed out’ of their jobs as a result of bullying and help them address their mistreatment.

“It’s about time we saw more progress from this Scottish Government. Preventative measures against bullying need to be in place and need to be robust.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “These suggestions are wrong – we have acted swiftly and decisively.

"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.

"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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