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New confidential ’Speak Up’ service for NHS Highland staff to raise concerns


By Gregor White

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NHS Highland chief executive Paul Hawkins.
NHS Highland chief executive Paul Hawkins.

Staff at NHS Highland will be able to access independent confidential support to raise concerns when a new service goes live in a few weeks.

The 'Speak Up' initiative will launch on July 1 as part of the health board's efforts to deliver the recommendations of last year’s Sturrock report into bullying within the organisation.

NHS Highland’s director of HR, Fiona Hogg, said: “This is another important step in our progress towards building a culture that meets the needs and aspirations of all of our colleagues working across the Highlands and Argyll and Bute.

“It will provide an additional channel for colleagues to discuss concerns in confidence if they feel they’re unable to raise them through one of our internal routes.

"The new service will listen and provide advice about how to deal with those concerns and ensure they are dealt with by the organisations.

“The initiative has been supported by our Culture Programme Board, established last year in partnership with staff and other stakeholders to focus on overseeing the actions required across the organisation for long term change in culture.

“We recognise that there is a lot more complex work to be done and the board is fully committed to driving forward the programme of change for as long as it takes to achieve. Every one of our colleagues needs to feel listened too, valued and respected."

NHS Highland’s chief executive Paul Hawkins said: “Since the publication of the Sturrock report in 2019 the board has undertaken an extensive listening programme with colleagues in a range of locations, as well as with trade unions and the whistle-blower group, which informed a range of actions that have been taken to maintain momentum and progress

“The Healing Process, which enables former and current employees to be heard and listened to, receive psychological support and to seek a resolution to their concerns via an independent panel was approved by the board in March for launch as soon as the current Covid-19 situation allows.”

Earlier this month NHS Highland launched its Employee Assistance Programme to enable staff to access confidential support to help cope with personal or work-related problems that may be affecting their health and wellbeing.

It is accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, via a freephone telephone number and an online portal to all employees.

Its aim is to provide short-term, solution-focused counselling and information services for personal or work-related concerns, legal matters and financial problems, as well as health and lifestyle.

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