NHS Highland patients who claim to be victims will not be able to give evidence to a QC-led review into allegations of a bullying culture, it has emerged.
The revelation has angered the shadow health minister, Highland MSP David Stewart, and the GMB union who say they feel “let down and disappointed”.
They felt that when health secretary Jeane Freeman announced the review she had given it scope to include patients who had allegedly suffered harassment.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
But, following a written question by Mr Stewart, she said evidence being given by patients only applies to those who have witnessed staff being bullied, not themselves.
In a reply in the Scottish Parliament last month, Ms Freeman said: “The review [into bullying] will explore the underlying issues and will include conversations with any affected individuals, including current and former staff, their representatives, board members, management and patients, if patients wish to come forward.”
Mr Stewart said his understanding was this statement referred to patients who had been bullied.
In his question to parliament, he asked how the review into alleged bullying and harassment will take account of the views of patients.
Ms Freeman said: “John Sturrock QC will be holding a series of private meetings with a large number of individuals who have contacted him to raise concerns, which may include any patients who have come forward who have witnessed or experienced bullying among NHS staff.”
Mr Stewart said: “I certainly picked up during the previous debate that patients who have been bullied or harassed would be able to feed in directly to the Sturrock review.
“But it turns out that they will only be able to take part if they have witnessed staff being bullied and not if they have been bullied themselves.
“Patients who have contacted me will be bitterly disappointed about this as they were very keen to let their voices be heard.”
Liz Gordon, of the GMB, said: “The initial understanding was bullied patients would have their say, but that is not going to be honoured now. It is a great shame. They will feel let down.”
An initial report will be submitted by the end of February 2019, and any next steps will then be decided upon.”