NHS Highland’s board chairman yesterday admitted the bullying scandal which has rocked the health authority had caused victims “pain and sorrow”.
David Alston also said: “It is important that we apologise sincerely to anyone who has experience of bullying past or present.”
Mr Alston and NHS employee/director Adam Palmer wrote a report for yesterday’s board meeting on allegations raised by whistleblowers in September.
The report acknowledges incidences of bullying and the impact on all concerned.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
At the board’s regular meeting in Inverness, Mr Alston said: “We have been consistently clear that there have been incidents of bullying in the organisation. In large scale operations this is unfortunately often the case. We must do all we can to prevent it.”
He went on: “There is a lot of hurt and sorrow both from victims of unacceptable behaviour and those who have been criticised for behaviour they don’t recognise. There are different views but what is common to them is the pain and the sorrow.”
Last Friday, the Scottish Government announced an independent review into the allegations of a bullying culture at NHS Highland to be conducted by John Sturrock QC.
Mr Alston said: “We are lucky to have his skills as an internationally-recognised mediator.
“I urge everyone to bring to his review both an open mind to hear things that are uncomfortable, and also a big heart. This is about the opportunities and the resolutions that enable us to move forward and to have the better conversations that we need for the future.”
The board briefly discussed a draft report on the situation by independent HR consultant Sandy Gallanders.
The report recommends engaging with staff to improve the understanding of the extent, nature and distribution of bullying and harassment in the organisation; provide pastoral support for staff, reinforce a positive culture and supporting behaviour, support managers dealing with the problem, and review and amend employment policies and procedures as necessary.
Heidi May, board nurse director said: “It’s clear we need to be focused on how we communicate with staff when there has been pain and sorrow within the organisation.
“I would encourage as many people as possible to talk to John Sturrock.”