Bullying and harassment in NHS Highland: Scottish Government response to report

Scottish Government response to report by John Sturrock, QC and mediator, on bullying and harassment in NHS Highland.

The Review has identified a number of significant cultural issues that have potentially contributed to a variety of situations and circumstances in which there has been behaviour that might reasonably be described as bullying, or at the very least, inappropriate. It is important now that we take the opportunity to reflect on these findings and that we engage constructively in dialogue, in the spirit of the Review, to support implementation of the recommendations.

It is however only right and proper that the staff of NHS Highland are at the centre of that dialogue. A sustainable way forward can only be found if staff are collectively included in, and feel a sense of ownership of, that way forward. So I now expect the Board of NHS Highland to carefully consider this substantive report and actively engage with staff at every level to consider its conclusions and recommendations and how these can be positively applied in NHS Highland.

Notwithstanding that, the Review only examined matters in NHS Highland; I want to acknowledge that there is important learning and reflection here for other NHS Scotland health boards and for the Scottish Government.

In many respects, what the Review states about how we work to build supportive cultures that engender and encourage the right behaviours, is of general application. For that reason, I will be convening a Ministerially-led Short-Life Working Group, with representation from NHS boards, staff-side, the Royal Colleges and the Professional and Regulatory bodies, to examine how we collectively take forward measures that support open and honest workplace cultures. In particular, I will be tasking this group to look specifically at what more we need to do to effectively deliver the behavioural and attitudinal approach to leadership and management that is at the heart of the Sturrock Review.

Meantime, I will also be writing to all health boards in Scotland to consider the Review and look again at the effectiveness of their own internal systems, leadership and governance. Further, I will be working with my officials to consider how the Scottish Government works to improve its existing relationships with health boards, reflecting on a number of the observations made in the Review in relation to board governance, and noting the programmes of work already under way to reform health board selection, appointments and training.


Email: john.malone@gov.scot

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