MSP contests Health Secretary’s reply that ACAS cannot get involved in bullying and harassment cases

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, is taking the Health Secretary to task after she rejected the involvement of ACAS – the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service – in allegations of bullying and harassment at NHS Highland.
Mr Stewart, who is also Scottish Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, asked the Scottish Government if it had been in discussion with ACAS following a briefing from the GMB saying it was raising a Collective Dispute against NHS Highland management and board.
In a written reply, Jeane Freeman said: “ACAS provide conciliation and arbitration services rather than the investigation of bullying and harassment concerns”.
However, Mr Stewart said he would now be contacting ACAS to challenge this.
“The GMB has requested that talks with NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government should begin at the earliest opportunity and, as it was now a formal Collective Dispute, that ACAS intervene too,” he said.
“So many people are now coming forward with their own personal stories of bullying that it is obvious that only an independent investigation will protect them and I believe that ACAS can play a valuable role in discussions around how this could be done.
“The Health Secretary is missing the point. We need to start taking constructive steps to avoid further reputational damage caused by the continual denial of what is evidently an issue in NHS Highland.
“The longer the Scottish Government holds out on launching an external investigation the more damage is being done to NHS staff and the more concern there is from patients.”