Highlands & Islands

Bullying alleged at NHS Western Isles

Iain Gilbert
Image caption Iain Gilbert said he fell ill after being suspended

A union has called on NHS Western Isles to review its procedures after allegations of bullying.

Three former employees have told the BBC they experienced inappropriate behaviour towards them while working at the health board.

They said their experiences had affected their mental health.

Chief executive Gordon Jamieson said bullying was not an issue at NHS Western Isles, but the union Unison has called for a review.

Unison said the Sturrock Report, which examined bullying allegations at NHS Highland, had set out a framework for reviewing and addressing staff concerns.

One of the three former employees, Agnes Munro, worked for NHS Western Isles for 29 years and in 2008 won an NHS manager of the year award.

She has alleged inappropriate behaviour by a consultant.

She said the consultant refused to listen to her, and said she feared she was going to be attacked as he became angry and came "closer and closer gesticulating and shouting" at her.

Image caption Agnes Munro said her experience of inappropriate behaviour came during a major incident

Ms Munro said she could not speak about her experience for at least six or seven years "without tears rolling down my eyes".

She told BBC Alba: "Two doctors told me it was post traumatic stress disorder."

Iain Gilbert, a former laboratory manager, said he was suspended over a complaint that reports he had submitted to management could not be found for an audit by the Blood Transfusion Service.

Mr Gilbert said he was the subject of an external investigation and that its final report "clearly" said the reports were there.

He said the experience badly affected his health.

Mr Gilbert said: "I had been ill and my wife was ill and I thought enough is enough and I just resigned before my disciplinary."

Image caption NHS Western Isles' chief executive said bullying was not an issue at the health board

The third former employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said the bullying they experienced came after she had raised concerns about her workload.

She said she was then "alienated in the work place" and "humiliated and embarrassed in team meetings".

The toll on her mental health led her to leave her job, her home and her family.

Mr Jamieson said there was no evidence of bullying at the health board.

'Absolutely no evidence'

He said: "I would entirely refute any such claims. There is absolutely no evidence over the decade I have worked at NHS Western Isles."

He said there was no evidence from staff surveys to support the allegations.

Mr Jamieson added: "I would certainly regret and apologise to anybody who, when they were working for us, had any kind of experience that left them feeling physically or mentally damaged."

Unison said the Sturrock Report, which was published earlier this month, had "clear implications" for every Scottish health board.

A spokesman said: "NHS Western Isles should examine procedure and policy and reflect on recent cases.

"The Sturrock Report gives a framework to review and address concerns. Unison will play an active part in this review."

He added: "While I cannot comment on individual cases there have been a number of cases where the experience of individuals is worrying."

Lawyer John Sturrock QC led an independent review of a "culture of bullying" at NHS Highland.

It suggested hundreds of health workers had potentially experienced inappropriate behaviour at the health board.

Concerns raised by a group of clinicians prompted the review.

Following the publication of the review's report, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman apologised and said other health boards should learn lessons.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites