Scottish Government asked to tackle bullying in the NHS

North east MSP Tess White has warned First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that a sharp rise in bullying cases in the NHS is having a damaging impact on the mental health of staff during an already difficult time.

Mark Dowie
Wednesday, 29th June 2022, 7:00am
Scottish Government asked to tackle bullying in the NHS

At FMQs, the Scottish Conservative spoke of her alarm at new figures which show bullying in health boards across the country has risen by nearly 50% in five years.

Since 2017, NHS Highland has had the largest increase of bullying cases, rising by 600% from 5 in 2017-18 to 35 in 2021-22.

Across the north-east, cases at NHS Tayside for the same period have more than tripled from 11 to 35 while incidents of bullying at NHS Grampian have doubled from 6 to 13.

Ms White voiced concerns to the First Minister that these instances will lower the number of NHS staff even further during a time when the NHS is facing an unprecedented crisis.

She said: “First Minister, in the north-east, the picture is particularly alarming, with reported cases having tripled in NHS Tayside and doubled in NHS Grampian.

“These cases will have had a deeply damaging effect on the mental health of staff at a time when recruitment and retention are an endemic issue in our NHS.

“What assessment has been made that lessons from John Sturrock QC’s 2019 review into bullying in NHS Highland have been implemented by health boards, and what urgent steps is the Scottish Government taking to ensure that health boards foster an open and tolerant workplace culture going forward?”

Ms Sturgeon described bullying as “unacceptable” and said the Scottish Government would monitor the review to ensure health boards are making the relevant changes.

Ms White later added: “The rise in bullying incidents at health boards is incredibly concerning.

“I raised this because it’s clear more work needs to be done to ensure staff have avenues to speak out about such intolerable incidents. NHS workers are more exhausted than ever due to the pandemic which is why mental health among health board staff must be a top priority for the Scottish Government. Humza Yousaf must ensure the NHS is properly resourced and that health boards have a safe and transparent working environment.”

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