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Highland MSP welcomes First Minister's commitment to debate on NHS bullying

By Scott Maclennan

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MSP Edward Mountain.
MSP Edward Mountain.

A Scottish Conservative MSP has welcomed a Scottish Government “U-turn” after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon renewed a commitment to hold a parliamentary debate on bullying at NHS Highland.

Highland and Islands regional member Edward Mountain said the SNP leader had over-ruled Humza Yousaf, the cabinet secretary for health and social care, by restoring the previous pledge made by predecessor Jeane Freeman in May 2019.

That followed the Sturrock Report findings which identified a culture of bullying affecting staff within the health board.

Mr Mountain said the Scottish Government had appeared to row back on the promise last week when Mr Yousaf said a debate had “not been ruled out”, but added the programme for government would be “the immediate focus” for parliamentary debate.

The renewed pledge came after Mr Mountain challenged the Scottish Government to keep its promise.

The First Minister said: “Bullying in the National Health Service is as unacceptable as bullying in any setting.

“I’m perfectly happy for a debate to be held in this parliament in government time if that is the view and I think the Tories have opposition business tomorrow where it would have been an option for them.

“It’s entirely up to them to debate this in their time, but I am happy to repeat the commitment that, when we are able to, we will bring forward in government time a debate on this issue.”

Mr Mountain said: “I welcome the Scottish Government’s U-turn and their re-commitment to holding a debate on their time because it happened on their watch.

“The wellbeing of some of our NHS staff is at stake and the Scottish Government cannot avoid the issue.

“Victims of bullying were promised a full debate in government time back in 2019 and it is vital that this takes place sooner rather than later.”

Related Story – Plans to tackle bullying delayed – NHS Highland's health board risks damaging ‘patient confidence’

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