NHS Highland ‘stands four-square’ behind bullying victims

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The NHS Highland Board has approved the start of what it calls the ‘Healing Process’ at its meeting this week.

Part of the board’s response to the Sturrock Report on bullying, it will provide the opportunity for current and former employees of the health board to formally register their interest in engaging with the Healing Process through a dedicated website, email address and telephone number.

All of these channels of communication are administered outwith NHS Highland by one of the independent partners supporting the Healing Process.

NHS Highland Chair, Professor Boyd Robertson said: ‘We have been unequivocal in our support of those who have experienced bullying and harassment. The whole board stands four-square behind the victims of bullying and we reaffirm that we are deeply sorry for the harm that has been caused.

Professor Boyd Robertson, Principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, UHI, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture member of the Commission on Parliamentary Refrom. 07 November 2016. Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
Professor Boyd Robertson – chairman of NHS Highland.

‘The Healing Process will be widely and easily accessible via a bespoke website and we would encourage current or former colleagues who want to discuss concerns about their experience of bullying and harassment while they were employed at NHS Highland to engage with the process.

‘The Healing Process has been co-produced with colleagues, trade unions and whistleblowers and I want to thank everyone who has invested their time to work with us in developing this approach. We want to continue to develop a culture where every member of staff feels listened to, valued and respected.’

The NHS Highland Board formally approved the Healing Process at its meeting in March.  Acknowledging that there would be a pressing need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board agreed to review the timing of the next steps of the process at its meeting in May.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart said he was glad that NHS Highland had finally formally launched the Healing Process.

‘I have been pursuing how people can use this process to lodge their cases following concerns from a number of constituents,” commented Mr Stewart.

‘Despite the challenges of COVID-19, this will allow the many people who have contacted me to register and to link up either virtually or by a meeting which uses social distancing.

‘There are many who have lost or left their jobs, and in some cases had their careers ruined, and will be unable to go to an industrial tribunal due to a time-bar on cases and unable to afford a civil case.

‘This is a long-awaited step to getting some sort of closure and perhaps compensation for many who have been badly affected by their experiences.’

Funded by the Scottish Government, the Healing Process offers former and current employees an independent process which will include four options: being heard; an apology; access to psychological therapies and access to an independent review panel with discussions being held remotely in line with COVID-19 social distancing requirements.

Participants can opt for more than one option and any data is managed and stored confidentially in line with the agreed standards.

The Healing Process is open for current and former employees who had experienced bullying in the period up to and including December 31, 2019.

For those who are not eligible or who choose not to access the Healing Process, there are a number of ways in which they can access support, including the Employee Assistance Programme which was launched earlier this month.