Glasgow & West Scotland

Carstairs State Hospital staff bullying claims total 14

State Hospital Image copyright NHS Scotland

There have been 14 claims of bullying by staff at the State Hospital in Carstairs in just five years, BBC Scotland can reveal.

About 700 staff work at Scotland's highest security psychiatric hospital, caring for up to 140 patients.

The bullying complaints were lodged under its "Dignity at Work" policy.

The hospital said the percentage of bullying claims had reduced in recent years. The Scottish government said the NHS would not tolerate bullying.

When the BBC approached the State Hospital about the bullying figure, the board said it would lead work to change "cultures and behaviours" at the facility.

'Zero tolerance'

In a statement, the hospital said: "The State Hospital's Zero Tolerance to Bullying and Harassment campaign has a clear objective of telling people that it is safe to complain.

"Any issues raised are addressed promptly and professionally. Dignity at Work remains a high priority for the board and we aspire to meet the aims of the staff governance standard whereby everyone in The State Hospital is always treated with dignity and respect.

"While the percentage of bullying allegations has actually reduced as a result of the various measures put in place over the past few years, we recognise that we need to continue in partnership with staff-side colleagues, to address any issues of bullying and harassment within the workplace to ensure all staff are treated with dignity and respect."

Scotland's Minister for Mental Health Jamie Hepburn is due to visit the facility later as part of its annual review.

Image copyright NHS Scotland

Responding to reports of bullying, Mr Hepburn said much had been done already to tackle the problem across the NHS.

"I am very clear that we will not tolerate bullying of any kind in our NHS," he said.

"It is not good for our hardworking NHS staff - particularly in an already challenging environment like the State Hospital - and it is not good for patients.

"It is also vitally important that all NHS workers feel that they can raise any concerns they may have safely and confidentially, and be reassured that health boards will listen."

Mr Hepburn added: "By encouraging staff to raise concerns, Scotland's health boards have the opportunity to identify potential problems at an early stage.

"This not only makes the NHS a better place to work, it also leads to a better health service for patients."

Recent controversies

The State Hospital has been dogged by a series of controversies in recent years.

Its chief executive, Andreana Adamson, stepped aside from her role following an outcry over financial payments to board members.

They were awarded payments totalling £50,000 as so-called "danger money" for working in a high-security environment, despite the fact they did not come into contact with patients.

Board members are still receiving the payments.

A report commissioned by the chairman of the board was released on the Friday before Christmas 2013 - when it was likely to receive less public scrutiny.

It was removed from the hospital's website after just six months.

The author, Proffesor Jim McGoldrick, found no evidence of fraud or serious misconduct, but criticised the board's handling of the issue.

He also expressed concern about bullying and said it was a "running theme" during his investigations.

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