NHS bosses slammed for ‘platitudes’ about bullying culture changes

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NHS Highland has now paid out almost £3milloion in compensation to staff who suffered from bullying.

The health board met this week to discuss a report outlining the costs for the scheme to compensate employees who had experienced inappropriate behaviour after whistleblowers exposed widespread issues four years ago.

A Scottish government-commissioned review suggested hundreds of health workers may have experienced inappropriate behaviour.

In response, NHS Highland launched a two-year ‘healing process’, which has now concluded and has involved a total of 233 pay-outs to current or former staff.

The £2,825,000 total involved average payments of £10,386. Two people received pay-outs of between £60,000 and £95,000.

The revelation of the numbers of staff and the amount in pay-outs led trade union, UNISON, to describe them as ‘sobering statistics’ that showed the scale of the problem.

In Thursday’s statement, UNISON said it recognised that NHS Highland has developed an ambitious Cultural Improvement Programme to respond to the 64 recommendations from the Sturrock review in 2019 and that it appreciated this will take time to implement.

But it added: ‘In some places it is difficult to see how this has resulted in tangible changes on the grass roots some three years past the review outcome.

‘Staff need to start seeing evidence of this positive cultural change on the ground now.
UNISON will work to ensure that the lessons from Sturrock are learned and will work with NHS Highland to implement these changes.’

However, one local retired senior nurse is less than impressed, claiming to the Lochaber Times that performance and financial targets were the only drivers that mattered to the health board.

‘Platitudes such as ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ have achieved nothing except allow management to announce they have changed,’ she said.

‘I know of at least four consultants between the Belford [hospital in Fort William] and Oban [hospital] who have recently resigned.’