More than 100 people come forward after NHS Highland ‘bullying’ claims

Iain Kennedy, medical practices executive partner.
Iain Kennedy, medical practices executive partner.

More than 100 workers have come forward since whistleblowers alleged a “severe bullying culture” at NHS Highland.

The response has “staggered” union chiefs who, along with the senior medics who brought the issue into the spotlight, are calling for an independent inquiry to be held into the claims.

GMB union regional organiser Liz Gordon said: “We continue to be inundated with testimonials since the issue was brought into the open, and now have well over 100.

“I find that staggering and well beyond what we thought the extent of the problem was.

“Usually you find people run for cover when an issue is raised, but this time they are running towards us to voice their concerns.

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“It is like an outpouring of grief. Staff are obviously deciding it is time to speak out about the mistreatment they have suffered.”

She added that the GMB – who have placed a full-page advert in today’s Press and Journal – has had testimonies from a whole host of sectors across NHS Highland – from nurses to those working in support services as well as clinical and administrative roles.

The advert states: “Do you work for NHS Highland? Have you been affected by bullying or intimidation? GMB can help.”

Former staff nurse describes working at Raigmore Hospital as the ‘worst experience of her entire life’

They publicise the fact they have their very own law firm, UnionScotland, and would welcome new members.

The four Highland clinicians who spoke out are Eileen Anderson, consultant radiologist at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness; Lorien Cameron-Ross, out of hours GP at Raigmore; Jonathan Ball, a GP at Nairn Medical Practice; and Iain Kennedy, executive partner at Riverside, Foyers and Cromarty medical practices.

In a publicly-issued letter, they wrote: “This practice of suppressing criticism, which emanates from the very top of the organisation has led to a culture of fear and intimidation.

“This has had a serious detrimental effect on staff at all levels of NHS Highland, but equally importantly has had an adverse effect on the quality of care we are able to provide.”

They, and the GMB, have since repeated calls for an independent public inquiry.

NHS Highland would not comment specifically on the GMB advert, but a spokeswoman said: “NHS Highland does not tolerate bullying and harassment behaviours.

“The board takes such allegations extremely seriously and any complaints made will be fully investigated through appropriate procedures.

“There are various ways in which our staff are encouraged to raise concerns. The process for reporting concerns would be through your line manager.

“However if this was not appropriate then concerns could be raised with another manager, with the HR department or through your union representative.”