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NHS Highland whistle-blowers hope to see more accountability from the board after health secretary's visit to Inverness

By Scott Maclennan

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Jeane Freeman.
Jeane Freeman.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman has arrived in Inverness for meetings with NHS Highland bosses response to bullying within the organisation and financial crisis at the board.

It is Ms Freeman’s first meeting with the board since new chief executive Paul Hawkins was appointed after the departure of Iain Stewart for NHS Orkney just a year into his tenure.

She is also due to meet with a group of whistle-blowers who helped reveal the bullying scandal in 2018.

High in the agenda will be the outcry against the board’s policy that victims of bullying should attempt to get compensation through the courts – something deemed entirely unacceptable by whistle-blowers and some victims.

Speaking before the meeting with Ms Freeman, one of the leading whistle-blowers, Dr Iain Kennedy said: “We have a lot of trust in Jeane Freeman as we believe she has the best interests of staff, victims and whistle-blowers at heart. And we believe she is making a determined effort to help NHS Highland deliver on the recommendations of the Sturrock report [into bullying with NHS Highland].

“We will be happy to hear what progress has been made in the offer of psychological report for those victims who have suffered harm and we hope we shall hear about a simple and clear financial pathway for victims to receive compensation as well.

“But we also need authentic responsibility from those who were present at board level in the years 2017 and 2018.”

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