Scottish Government and NHS Highland will not change Healing Process despite concerns

Regional Labour MSP, David Stewart, and victims of NHS Highland bullying and harassment are extremely disappointed that the health authority and Scottish Government will not be changing one stage of the ‘Healing Process’.

Mr Stewart, who represents the Highlands and Islands, asked for a rethink on how the Healing Process Remuneration Committee had been set up after concerns from members of the T-Party group, formed before the Coronavirus hit, to help victims of NHS Highland bullying and harassment get together for support over a cup of tea and a chat.

T-Party members said the Remuneration Committee, which will discuss compensation for some of those involved in the Healing Process, is not independent enough and could have members, or those sitting in on the meetings, who have been involved in individual cases of staff or former staff.

However, although NHS Highland recognised that the group had concerns and were “deeply impacted by their experiences”, it said that the Healing Process “had been fully co-produced with representatives of interested groups including the whistle-blowers and staffside and it has been approved by the Board and Scottish Government. This is now in operation and consultation on the design has ended.”

NHS Highland went on to say that the remit and required membership of the Remuneration Committee was set out in the national governance standards for NHS Boards and was not “open for individual boards to amend or alter”.

Mr Stewart said: “It’s regrettable that both the Scottish Government and health authority would not move on this as it caused real concern for many people who have already been damaged and badly affected by their experiences.

“However, I’ve been assured that confidentiality and personal data will be protected and I sincerely hope that this will be followed through.”

The Scottish Government’s Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, said: “I am confident that the Healing Process, as designed, meets with the recommendations and intentions of the Sturrock review.”

The Healing Process allows current and former staff of the health authority to talk to an independent panel about their experiences of being bullied or harassed.

This follows whistleblowers, union representatives and Mr Stewart calling for action on a culture of bullying at NHS Highland, a review carried out by QC John Sturrock and intervention by the Scottish Government.

Statement from the T-Party group below:

“We learnt of the NHS Highland led Remuneration Committee existence half way through the Healing Process.

It was not announced and we only became aware of it when one of the support group was looking up the Healing Process guidelines for an unrelated matter.

Some people have even withdrawn from the Healing Process because of the involvement of the Remuneration Committee as the simply do not trust them to follow proper procedure.

In fact it has been notable that the Healing Process was being handled in a transparent and professional manner, up to the point where the NHS Highland Remuneration Committee has become involved, causing it to stall.

It is deeply disappointing that the Healing Process, designed to bring closure, is in fact being handled by the very Health Board that dealt the harm in the first place.”