A “single process for restitution and healing” for victims of bullying and harassment within NHS Highland are to be dealt with on a “case by case basis” – but no financial settlements have yet been agreed.
An independent review by John Sturrock QC, commissioned by health secretary Jeane Freeman after whistleblowers came forward with serious allegations, found that hundreds of employees had suffered from inappropriate behaviour.
The Sturrock Review unearthed evidence of bullied staff contemplating suicide and being driven to depression, alcoholism and drug abuse.
His review led to calls for victims – estimated to be around 300 former and current members of staff – to be compensated, which could cost millions of pounds.
In a report to next week’s NHS Highland board meeting, chief executive Iain Stewart says: “In the short term it was agreed that a number of actions will be taken immediately, particularly in relation to addressing the hurt felt by the victims.
“It was agreed that there will be a single process for restitution and healing, designed on a case by case basis.
“The board is committed to working with those that came forward and providing specific and individualised support.”
An NHS Highland spokesman yesterday stressed that while the process is being put in place, no financial compensation payments had been agreed.
Brian Devlin, a former head of communications for NHS Highland and media manager for the whistleblowers, said: “I welcome this news. Obviously we will all be keen to see the detail of this scheme, which should include victim support as well as financial compensation.”
Conservative MSP Edward Mountain said: “I welcome the chief executive’s announcement and I urge the board of NHS Highland to ensure the process is easily accessible and for it to be operational as soon as possible.
“I am continuing to press both NHS Highland and the Scottish Government to include as part of the process those who feel they have been ‘managed out’ of their jobs as a result of bullying.”