Cultural issues related to allegations of bullying and harassment in NHS Highland: independent review report

An independent review report looking at cultural issues related to allegations of bullying and harassment in NHS Highland by John Sturrock, QC and mediator.

Quotes and Questions

"There was never any physical violence. Only the fear. That nauseous feeling in my stomach. Hyper vigilance. It would start on a Tuesday and culminate on the Friday when we met. The intimidation was horrible. I would do everything I could to avoid it. I was blamed for leaving early. I never told anyone at the time. They, those in charge, must have known. But I felt powerless. Ashamed. As if it was my fault. It affected everything. I suspect it has had a huge impact on my life."

"I found it really hard being called a bully. It was shocking in fact but I couldn’t admit it to anyone outside. I hadn’t been trained to take on this role. I had tried my best. But there was huge pressure to conform, to do things a certain way. I knew I was hard to work for at times and would tend to be demanding. In reality, I was struggling. I couldn’t show that or tell anyone. I didn’t mean to cause harm. Sometimes, it felt like I was the one being bullied even though I was supposed to be in charge. Even now, I feel ill at the thought of it…" (see Personal Note at paragraph 1.17)

"We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them". (attributed to Albert Einstein)

"The key to doing well lies not in overcoming others, but in eliciting their cooperation." (Robert Axelrod)

"We have far more in common than that which divides us" (Jo Cox MP)

"There is no us and them, only us." (Ken Cloke)

"When in doubt, do the kindest thing" (unattributed)

"We are mirrored not by concepts, but by faces delighting in us—giving us the face we can’t give to ourselves. It is "the face of the other " that finally creates us and, I am sorry to say, also destroys us. It is the gaze that does us in…." (Richard Rohr)

"I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." (Maya Angelou)

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing him or her self." (adapted from words of Leo Tolstoy)


It is perhaps only by asking, and continuing to ask, ourselves and each other difficult questions that a constructive way forward will emerge.

Before you read this report, I invite you to ask yourself some questions:

  • What am I hoping to find in this report?
  • What assumptions have I made before I start?
  • What do I hope to learn from reading this?
  • How open am I to new perspectives?
  • How willing am I to see another side of the story?

After reading the report, you might ask:

  • What have I learned?
  • What needs to change?
  • Who do I now need to talk to?
  • What else do I now need to do?
  • What do I need to let go?
  • How can I help to change things for the better?

If you are affected by what has happened in NHS Highland, I invite you to ask these further questions:

  • What was my role in things which happened?
  • What might I have done differently?
  • What do I now regret doing or not doing?
  • What do I need to acknowledge in myself or about others?
  • What might it be like to be the person I dislike or fear most?
  • How might others see me?

"O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!" (Robert Burns)



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