Argyll IJB chairman promises full co-operation over Sturrock Report

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The chairman of Argyll and Bute’s health board has promised full co-operation with any measures affecting the area in response to the Sturrock Report.

Councillor Kieron Green [Independent, Oban North and Lorn] addressed concerns  raised after the document reported that hundreds of health workers at NHS Highland may have experienced inappropriate behaviour.

Members of NHS Highland make up the integration joint board (IJB) of the Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), which oversees services in the area.

Councillor Green responded to a question on the matter from Councillor Audrey Forrest [SNP, Dunoon] at a meeting of the full council on Thursday, June 27.

The review, led by John Sturrock QC, was published on Thursday May 9. The IJB held its most recent meeting on Wednesday May 29.

Councillor Forrest said: ‘Mr Sturrock was concerned to hear about particular problems in some island communities and the culture in Lochgilphead and Oban.

‘A review of management practices may be needed. What is being done and how will we facilitate this?’

Councillor Green said: ‘Obviously the Sturrock Report has raised a number of very serious issues across NHS Highland, and this has triggered a number of other people coming forward across Scotland and the Western Isles.

‘The IJB considered the Sturrock Report at the end of May, but the timing meant that there was not a substantial amount of consideration that could be given.

‘The IJB decided to note the report and make a request that progress reports are brought back to the board on a regular basis as and when decisions are made.

‘NHS Highland has had the first plan produced as to their actions. How that will be implemented in Argyll and Bute is for consideration and will come back in due course.

‘It is too early to say what form it will take, but we will fully co-operate.’

The review report stated that on Friday September 28, 2018, a group of senior clinicians at NHS Highland spoke out about what they claimed was a culture of bullying among the health board.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman requested an independent external investigation into the claims on Monday November 5, and Mr Sturrock was appointed 18 days later to carry out the probe.

The review was contacted by 340 people from most departments and services at NHS Highland, with nearly two thirds reporting experiences of what they described as bullying.

Following publication of Mr Sturrock’s report, NHS Highland chief executive Iain Stewart said: ‘I can assure you all that the response will itself be comprehensive and, over the coming weeks and months, NHS Highland will take whatever actions are required to ensure that its people are valued, respected and that their voices are heard.’

A report for the IJB meeting on May 29, by interim medical director Dr Boyd Peters, stated: ‘NHS Highland will make plans to provide pastoral care, mediation, occupational health support and an appropriate communication framework.

‘HR processes will support the response plan for the Sturrock report and there will also be organisational learning and improvement through review of structures and leadership, through training and information for board members and learning from other boards.

‘Specific plans may require to be considered for particular areas which were identified in the Sturrock Report, including Argyll and Bute but as a founding principle it is recommended to the board that where possible there is a consistent and full implementation of actions across the whole of NHS Highland.”

Councillor Green said in a report before the council meeting: ‘Within it [the Sturrock Report] are a number of potential implications for the HSCP and as further details emerge these will be brought back for consideration by the IJB.

‘Another item which prompted much debate was around governance of the IJB and the committees which report to it, including the role of different members and the filling of a number of vacant positions.

‘There was a further joint leadership meeting with representatives of Argyll and Bute Council, NHS Highland and the IJB, where the proposed review of scheme of integration was discussed.’