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NHS Highland aims to have mental health specialist in place for employees stressed during coronavirus outbreak

By Scott Maclennan

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Contracts with psychological therapies provider Validium are being drawn up with hopes its service can be place for NHS Highland staff this week.

The move was revealed by NHS Highland’s HR director Fiona Hogg in board papers to be discussed today.

It is part of the health board’s response to bullying allegations and is aimed at bolstering its employee-support programme.

Ms Hogg stated: “In the current context of the Covid-19 response, we can see that additional pressure will be placed on all of our colleagues both in the work environment and in dealing with the uncertainty of the external environment.

“We have issued a range of guidance, resources and support to all colleagues.

“We have pulled together a team from across the organisation, which will meet weekly to ensure all of our efforts are co-ordinated and we have a single wellbeing plan.

“This will ensure we identify any gaps or additional opportunities to provide support.”

A Guardian/Speak-up service – designed to be a go-to service for staff who fall victim to bullying or harassment – is on course to be launched this summer with more details set to be announced next month.

Newly appointed duo – interim deputy chief executive Pamela Dudek, who was the chief officer of health and social care at Moray Council, and culture adviser Emma Pickard – will become key figures in ongoing anti-bullying work.

Ms Pickard will chair monthly meetings and look at aspects such as arrangements for whistle-blowing.

Despite being embroiled in allegations of sending out inappropriate emails warning staff self-isolating at home that they could be disciplined if they do not return to office work – Ms Hogg remains the lead officer for staff wellbeing.

She said the board’s so-called healing process – which includes compensation packages for victims, is on hold while the pandemic is ongoing.

“This will be under regular review, but the process requires significant face-to-face interactions with those impacted in order to be effective and supportive,” she said.

“A website has been set up to register interest, and those who had previously been in contact with NHS Highland have been updated on progress.”

The board is also expected to receive an update on the coronavirus situation and NHS Highland’s finances for 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Related: NHS Highland agrees to bullying compensation

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