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NHS Highland approves process for dealing with bullying victims; 'We are deeply sorry for the harm that has been caused to every one of those individuals'


By Andrew Dixon

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NHS Highland board has approved its so-called healing process, which has been developed in partnership with staff, trade unions and whistle-blowers in response to the Sturrock Report.

Funded by the Scottish Government, the healing process enables former and current employees to access an independent team of advisers which include human resources, legal, communications and mediation specialists.

The board also agreed that the launch date for the process will be discussed at the end of May to allow the board to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prior to the launch, NHS Highland is encouraging anyone impacted by bullying and harassment to visit an independent website to help them decide whether or not they may wish to access the healing process. This includes NHS Highland staff, who have worked or are currently working in Argyll and Bute.

Brian Devlin, on behalf of the whistle-blowers and the group No More Victims, which co-produced the healing process, said: “I recognise that all attention is rightly focused on coronavirus today and I’m conscious of the heroic efforts NHS Highland staff are putting in to treat patients.

“Nevertheless, this is a milestone moment in NHS Highland for another reason. Today they have shared their document outlining the healing process for the hundreds of staff who have been injured as a consequence of being bullied at work.

“From the start, the whistle-blowers have repeated two demands: psychological support for those who have been harmed and financial settlement for those whose careers have been terminated due to bullying in the organisation. Today we see the results of their efforts. And very welcome they are too.”

Mr Devlin continued: “With the guidance of health secretary Jeane Freeman MSP, we have a process that I am confident victims can trust when it officially launches – once things have changed for the better with the pandemic. The entire process has involved a group of victims who have suffered enormously from being bullied. Co-production works. There’s a lesson here for all statutory services in the future.”

Professor Boyd Robertson, chairman of NHS Highland, said: “As I said last June, when we set out to develop our healing process, I and the whole board, stand four-square behind the victims of bullying and we reaffirm that we are deeply sorry for the harm that has been caused to every one of those individuals.

“I would like to thank everyone who invested their time to work with us in developing an approach which meets the needs of former and current employees and underpins a culture where every member of staff at NHS Highland feels listened to, valued and respected.”

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