Strengthening NHS workplace culture

Response to Sturrock Review on NHS Highland.

A summit will be held this summer to consider what more can be done to promote positive workplace practices across the NHS. 

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman made the announcement as part of a package of measures in response to John Sturrock QC’s report into allegations of bullying and harassment in NHS Highland.

In a statement to parliament, Ms Freeman restated that bullying and harassment has no place in the NHS and that NHS Highland should immediately consider how the report’s recommendations should be applied.

The summit will bring together the leadership of NHS boards, staff and trades unions, royal colleges and professional and regulatory bodies. It will look at what more can be done to support open and honest workplace cultures and to deliver improved behaviours among leadership and management at all levels of the health service.

Other measures outlined today include:
• dedicated Whistleblowing Champions recruited to every health board by the end of 2019
• the introduction of legislation to allow the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman to take on the role of Independent National Whistleblowing Officer for NHS Scotland by summer 2020
• the Health Secretary writing to all NHS boards to ensure they reflect on and learn from the findings of the Sturrock Review

Ms Freeman said:

“I believe passionately in the NHS Scotland values of care and compassion, dignity and respect, openness, honesty, responsibility, quality and teamwork and I know that staff in NHS Highland believe passionately in those values too. Our collective belief in these values is critical to our capacity to deliver the safe, effective person-centred care people deserve.  But I also know that belief in these values has to be evidenced by behaviours that reflect these values.

“NHS Highland has many caring, supportive, diligent and highly-skilled staff. But this extensive review has identified a number of significant cultural issues that have contributed to actual and perceived behaviour in NHS Highland that does not reflect these values.

“That can neither be acceptable nor allowed to continue. So now we need to engage constructively with the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the review, reflecting that, as John Sturrock points out, there are also a number of staff whose personal experience of working in NHS Highland is not one of a bullying culture and who have equally legitimate concerns that need to be heard and taken account of.
“So whatever else we may do, it is absolutely right  that staff in NHS Highland are at the centre of that engagement and dialogue. That is the only way to secure the sustainable restoration of trust and shared purpose that is essential to a positive working culture. So I now require the board and wider leadership of NHS Highland to carefully consider this report and actively engage with staff – at every level – to consider the conclusions and recommendations and how these can be positively applied.”

You can read John Sturrock QC’s report into cultural issues related to allegations of bullying and harassment in NHS Highland on our website.

The Scottish Government’s full response is available on our website.


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