An independent review report looking at cultural issues related to allegations of bullying and harassment in NHS Highland by John Sturrock, QC and mediator.
On 23 November 2018, John Sturrock was asked by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport to undertake a fully independent external review into allegations of a bullying culture at NHS Highland. The stated purpose of the review was to:
- Create a safe space for individual and/ or collective concerns to be raised and discussed confidentially with an independent and impartial third party.
- Understand what, if any, cultural issues have led to any bullying, or harassment, and a culture where such allegations apparently cannot be raised and responded to locally.
- Identify proposals and recommendations for ways forward which help to ensure the culture within NHS Highland in the future is open and transparent and perceived by all concerned in this way.
The review was contacted by 340 people from most departments, services and occupations at NHS Highland. More than 280 took part in face to face meetings or made written submissions. The majority (66%) reported experiences of what they described as bullying.
Staff said they had not felt valued, respected or supported in carrying out "very stressful work". Others told of not being listened to when raising matters regarding patient safety concerns and decisions being made "behind closed doors".
The review also said that "many described a culture of fear and of protecting the organisation when issues are raised".
The review concludes with ways forward for NHS Highland.