Review of bullying in Argyll & Bute NHS confirmed

Friday 11th October 2019

An independent review is to look into claims of bullying in Argyll & Bute NHS services.

The review, which will begin in January 2020 and conclude at the end of March, was confirmed by health secretary Jeane Freeman earlier this week.

It comes after an inquiry looking into workplace culture that reported in May of this year found ‘hundreds’ of staff members at NHS Highland were victims of bullying.

Review author John Sturrock QC called for a second investigation focusing on Argyll & Bute because of its isolation from the rest of the north Highland area.

He said some of the allegations ‘implicate management at a very senior level’.

Highlands MSP David Stewart said it was right for there to be an individual review for Argyll & Bute considering “geographical differences with the rest of the NHS Highland area”.

Mr Stewart said: “In my twenty years of experience of dealing with NHS Highland as an MSP and MP, I have never before encountered such a toxic culture of bullying than what has been experienced by the staff.”

“I would encourage any individual who has experienced bullying and harassment within NHS Highland in Argyll and Bute to step forward and tell their story.” 

NHS Highland corporate communications director Jane McGirk said: “From our initial staff engagement discussions we believe it is right that we conduct a review across Argyll and Bute to complement the earlier review in north Highland. 

“NHS Highland is committed to the achievement of a positive culture fit for the future where all of its employees feel valued and listened to.”

Highland health board brought in an organisation and cultural change specialist to be its new director of human resources and organisational development in July as part of ongoing efforts to tackle bullying.

Health boards, trade unions, royal colleges and regulatory bodies have also come together and formed a short-life working group aiming to improve behaviour and workforce practices in the NHS.