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NHS Scotland needs ‘major culture change’ to stamp out bullying, warns RCPE

Hospital corridor - Julie Kertesz CC2.0

NHS Scotland needs ‘major culture change’ to stamp out bullying, warns RCPE

Tackling bullying at health boards requires a “major cultural shift” within NHS Scotland, a leading group of doctors has warned.

The call by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) comes as the Scottish Parliament’s health committee begins examining the role of the independent national whistleblowing officer, announced in 2017 but yet to be launched.

Earlier this month, a review into cases at NHS Highland, led by John Sturrock QC, found widespread bullying led by “dysfunctional” senior management.

In its submission to the committee, the RCPE welcomed the new national officer role, but warned it will not reduce bullying without a shift toward a preventative culture.

RCPE president Professor Derek Bell said: “We believe that a whistleblowing officer for the Scottish NHS may help how allegations of bullying are handled. But we are under no illusions: there must be a major cultural shift within NHS Scotland to cut out bullying, once and for all.

“The challenge is creating a culture that values opinions, allows concerns to be raised, and supports all individuals who provide health and care services. Staff must feel valued and supported.

“Creating a culture with clear lines of accountability and supporting inter-professional and inter-organisational partnership working should help move the system towards not just zero tolerance, but prevention.

“In some situations, it may be necessary to work hard on creating a positive working culture based on NHS values. These are care and compassion; dignity and respect; openness, honesty and responsibility; and quality and teamwork.”

Responding to the Sturrock report, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said that NHS Highland had “not always reflected” NHS Scotland values, which “can neither be acceptable nor allowed to continue”.

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