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by Tom Freeman
23 November 2018
John Sturrock QC appointed to lead review of NHS Highland bullying claims

John Sturrock QC - credit Singapore International Mediation Centre

John Sturrock QC appointed to lead review of NHS Highland bullying claims

The Scottish Government has appointed experienced mediator John Sturrock QC to the independent review of claims of a bullying culture at NHS Highland.

The move comes after more than 100 clinicians from across the Highlands called for an investigation of what they called a “culture of intimidation” at the health board.

Earlier this month four whistleblowers took the case the Scottish Government to ask for an external review.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “These are serious allegations and it is clearly important to me that we establish exactly what the underlying issues are so I can decide on any actions that might be necessary.”

Sturrock has years of commercial and public sector mediation experience, including an industrial dispute with college lecturers.

“These are difficult and sensitive issues,” he said. "I know from my work as a mediator how important it is to listen to people’s concerns.

“My primary role, therefore, is to provide a safe and confidential place for people to be heard and to explore with them what the underlying issues might be.

“I hope that, by better understanding the circumstances, acknowledging the impact on individuals and services and learning lessons from the past, confidence and effective working relationships can be rebuilt.”

When the concerns were made public, David Alston, chairman of NHS Highland, said the board had been “unable to understand the nature, extent and causes” of the complaints.

“The board has said all along that we have nothing to hide and, therefore, in order to understand and address the underlying issues, we would welcome external input to determine what is required.”

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