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NHS Scotland must tackle bullying problems ‘head-on’

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Stressed doctorImage copyright Getty Images

The Scottish government must tackle the reasons behind bullying in the NHS “head-on”, a leading doctor will warn.

Dr Lewis Morrison, chairman of BMA Scotland, says patient care is being affected.

And he believes the drive to meet targets is doomed to fail unless steps are urgently taken.

More than 560 allegations of bullying or harassment have been raised across the NHS in Scotland over the last five years.

The figures were obtained by doctors’ organisation BMA Scotland following FOI requests to health boards across the country.

It comes after a review earlier this year suggested there had been “hundreds” of bullying allegations at NHS Highland.

A spokesman for the Scottish government said it expected NHS boards to do “everything possible” to eradicate bullying in the workplace.

Dr Morrison believes the NHS should not “squander” the opportunity to tackle the problem.

During a speech in Belfast, he will say the FOI results were unlikely to show the “complete picture” and he will call on NHS Scotland to transform the bullying culture and rebuild trust among staff.

‘Wholly inappropriate behaviours’

His speech follows the publication of the Sturrock Report, which considered the bullying allegations at NHS Highland.

The independent investigation was commissioned by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman in November after concerns were raised by a group of senior clinicians.

It concluded that hundreds of members of staff had potentially endured inappropriate behaviour while working at the health board.

In his speech, Dr Morrison is expected to say NHS Scotland has become “such fertile ground for wholly inappropriate behaviours to be carried out”.

“I think it is clear that bullying and harassment is the issue that has dominated the NHS in Scotland this year,” Dr Morrison will say.

“The issues aren’t new but are only now coming fully to light.”

He will welcome the NHS Highland review which “makes for stark reading”.

Image copyright Douglas Robertson
Image caption Dr Lewis Morrison will say that bullying and harassment issues in NHS are only now “coming fully to light”

And he will urge a working group set up to address the problems to tackle the issues “head-on”.

Dr Morrison is also expected to say there must be a move away from a blame culture and instead ensure a system is in place where staff are listened to.

“Doctors and healthcare workers in Scotland must be able to go to work unafraid, knowing concerns will be listened to and dealt with,” he will say.

“We need to measure what our NHS does but a blame-driven culture, where we measure arbitrary things like waiting lists, which are simply unachievable, must end – and it must end quickly.”

A spokesman for the Scottish government said: “We expect NHS boards to do everything possible to eradicate bullying in the workplace.

“The health secretary, in the Scottish government’s response to the Sturrock review, set out a package of measures to support the reinforcement of positive working cultures across our health service.

“This includes convening a ministerial-led working group which will look at what practical strategies can be put in place to ensure staff are able to work in an open, fair and supportive environment whatever their role and wherever they might be based, and we look forward to working with the BMA on this.”

Content provided by the BBC. Original piece can be found here https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-48764061

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