Highlands & Islands

NHS Highland makes 'unreserved apology' for bullying

Doctors surgery Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A group of senior clinicians has called for an inquiry

NHS Highland's board has "apologised unreservedly" for bullying and inappropriate behaviour experienced by members of its staff.

The apology came during the first meeting of the board since a report on an independent review of allegations of a culture of bullying at NHS Highland.

The review suggested that hundreds of health workers had potentially experienced inappropriate behaviour.

NHS Highland said the focus was now on "healing and reconciliation".

The review led by John Sturrock QC said staff had described suffering "fear, intimidation and inappropriate behaviour at work".

Concerns raised by a group of clinicians prompted the review.

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

In a statement, issued during the board meeting in Inverness, Prof Robertson said NHS Highland's board fully accepted the review's recommendations.

'Apologise unreservedly'

He said: "The report finds that bullying or inappropriate behaviour has occurred within NHS Highland and we apologise unreservedly to those members of staff who have not been treated according to the high standards we expect.

"The board acknowledges that there were shortcomings in the way it dealt with the issues raised and will reflect upon how it must improve."

Prof Robertson added: "The report recognises the concerns raised by the whistleblowers, but also acknowledges that others feel hurt by some of the allegations.

"It is important as a board that we consider the needs of all our people."

Bullying claims timeline

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Health Secretary Jeane Freeman requested an independent review of allegations of bullying
  • 26 September 2018: A group of senior clinicians at NHS Highland speak out about what they claim to be a culture of bullying at the health board. The doctors say that for at least a decade there has been a "practice of suppressing criticism, which emanates from the very top of the organisation"
  • 2 October: NHS Highland seeks a resolution to the allegations through a meeting with the clinicians, but the doctors call for the matter to go to a public inquiry
  • 5 November: Health Secretary Jeane Freeman requests an independent external investigation to examine allegations of bullying within NHS Highland
  • 23 November: John Sturrock QC appointed to lead an independent review of the allegations
  • 9 May 2019: Independent review report published

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