Questions raised with Health Secretary over process for bullying and harassment cases

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart questioned Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, today about the process for NHS Highland to deal with bullying and harassment cases raised as a result of the Sturrock review.

Mr Stewart has been pressing the health authority to ensure there is one point of contact for those constituents who have written to him with complaints of how they were previously treated at their work.

At General Questions he welcomed the Scottish Government’s new, separate and independent review into alleged bullying and harassment in the NHS in Argyll and Bute. He had previous raised this issue in Holyrood.

But he also added that it was “crucial” that there was one point of contact for those who have come forward as a result of Sturrock claiming they have been bullied or harassed at NHS Highland.

“The health authority told me this week that the process for looking at cases should be approved at its November board meeting and that should be fully publicised for people to get in touch through the correct channel,” said Mr Stewart after raising his question in Holyrood.

“I should hear from the Chief Executive at the end of November or early December what that process is, so I can share it with constituents.

“It is very important that there is independent scrutiny of the scheme to ensure fairness to those who are already traumatised by what they experienced.

“Many people feel their voices are still not being heard after such a long time and I totally understand people’s frustration and anxiety over this.”

Ms Freeman said that she had met with NHS Highland on Monday and was told that it will be conducting an independent 12-week review into Argyll and Bute in January.

She also agreed with Mr Stewart about having the one point of contact for those coming forward as a result of Sturrock and added that there would be two points of contact, taking into account Argyll and Bute, although she added it was in many ways different from the cases already under review at NHS Highland.

Ms Freeman said it was important that all staff knew who the single point of contact was and said that shortly there would be non-executive whistle blowing champions on health boards appointed by her who would also be directly accountable to her.