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Debate urged into NHS Highland workplace bullying figures

By Tom Ramage

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The First Minister was today challenged by Highland MSP Edward Mountain to keep the Scottish Government’s ‘twice-made promise’ to debate the findings of John Sturrock QC’s report into bullying within NHS Highland.

This comes after Edward Mountain MSP highlighted new figures yesterday, which showed that there has been a near 50% increase in the number of bullying cases nationally in the NHS over the last five years.

In NHS Highland the number of bullying cases rose from 5 in 2017-18 to 40 in 2020/21, before dropping slightly to 35 in 2021/22.

Edward Mountain: Sturrock Report should be debated now
Edward Mountain: Sturrock Report should be debated now

During the First Minister’s Questions today, Edward Mountain MSP asked: “First Minister, in the last Parliament you agreed or your Government agreed, to debate the Sturrock report. You did in fact agree in this Parliament to debate the Sturrock report. Do you think the fact that you haven’t hasn’t helped this bullying going on in the NHS and that you should now fulfil your promise and provide that time, as you’ve undertaken twice before?”

Mrs Sturgeon said: “I’m certainly happy to consider Government time for that, of course Opposition parties can choose to debate in their time any issue that they want to debate. I think it is important that we have vigorous and robust debate in this parliament, but I think it is more or as important on these issues that we ensure the recommendations from John Sturrock’s review are

She continued: “These issues do matter. It is vital that everybody who works in our National Health Service has a culture that supports them, not one that in anyway allows them to be bullied or intimidated, and John Sturrock’s recommendations certainly will help ensure that is the case.”

Following the statement, Mr Mountain MSP said: “The wellbeing of some of our NHS staff is at stake and the Scottish Government cannot avoid the issue by delaying a twice-promised debate.

“Victims of bullying were promised a full debate in government time back in 2019 and again in Autumn last year. It’s not up to the opposition to hold a debate on this issue, it is the responsibility of the Scottish Government, which made this promise.

“It is vital that this takes place sooner rather than later as recent figures show that workplace bullying remains a problem throughout our NHS.”

The Strathy has invited NHSH to comment.

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