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NHS bullying and harassment advisory group holds first meeting

Image credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA Images

NHS bullying and harassment advisory group holds first meeting

An advisory group set up to address bullying and harassment of staff at NHS Highland has held its first meeting.

The Ministerial Short-Life Working Group (MSLWG) was set up in response to John Sturrock QC’s report, which found NHS Highland staff experienced “inappropriate behaviour that could be defined as bullying and harassment", leaving a significant number with enduring mental health problems.

The group, chaired by Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, includes members of NHS boards, staff, trade unions, royal colleges, professional and regulatory bodies.

The MSLWG discussed promoting positive behaviour and workforce practices, and the group will look at how to deliver improved behaviours among leaders and managers at all levels of the NHS.

“This was a positive and productive first meeting of the advisory group, and over the coming months we will to engage constructively with the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the Sturrock review,” Freeman said.

“I believe passionately in the NHS Scotland values of care and compassion, dignity and respect, openness, honesty, responsibility, quality and teamwork - and I know that staff across our NHS believe passionately in those values too.

“Our collective belief in these values is critical to our capacity to deliver the safe, effective person-centred care people deserve; but to truly do that our staff have to experience a workplace culture at every level which is aligned to those values.”

She said the MSLWG would deliver “a framework focused on relationships, behaviours, confidence and trust”.

The Sturrock review reported a significant number of the NHS staff it spoke to presented a picture of “dysfunctional” senior management that was “autocratic, intimidating, closed, suppressing, defensive and centralising” and fostered a culture in which “challenge was not welcome and people felt unsupported”.

Freeman has also vowed to recruit “dedicated whistleblowing champions” to every NHS board by the end of this year and will introduce legislation allowing the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to take on the role of “national whistleblowing officer” for NHS Scotland by mid-2020. 

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