Highlands & Islands

Bullied NHS Highland staff could get payouts

Hospital generic Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A review suggested hundreds of people may have been affected by bullying at NHS Highland

Health care workers affected by bullying could be given compensation, NHS Highland bosses have said.

Potentially hundreds of people have experienced bullying at the health board, an independent review suggested earlier this year.

NHS Highland has a draft action plan to address problems indentified by the review led by John Sturrock QC.

Appearing in front of Holyrood's health and sport committee, bosses said some affected staff could receive payouts.

During the meeting, Labour MSP David Stewart said he had been contacted by staff who said their careers had been ruined because of bullying during their time working at the board, and that they had lost out financially as a result.

'A retreat'

Boyd Robertson, interim chairman of NHS Highland, confirmed to the committee payouts for staff was one recommendation under consideration as part of action being taken to address concerns raised in the Sturrock Report.

He said: "We are aware of these cases, I have met personally with a number of these people.

"We are working through the recommendations of the Sturrock Report, we had a retreat last week - or a strategy workshop to be exact - as recommended by John Sturrock to look deeper at the issues in his report and at his recommendations.

"One of the areas we will be looking at is the area of compensation but we're not yet at a stage where we can give a definitive answer as to how we're going to deal with that."

An apology

Iain Stewart, the board's chief executive, acknowledged the harm caused to staff by the behaviour at the health board.

He said: "We are looking at various ways of supporting them (the staff).

"We are looking at counselling, we are looking at mediation, we are looking at support, we have our occupational health department.

"We have been hearing also about the bad stories. Both the chairman and myself have welcomed our colleagues to come in and speak to us and listen to the harm that has been caused and there has been some harm caused."

Concerns raised by a group of clinicians prompted the review led by Mr Sturrock.

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

NHS Highland also issued an apology.

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