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600% increase in workplace bullying in 4 years – MSP shows 'deep concern' over NHS Highland figures

By David G Scott

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Bullying at NHS Highland has dramatically increased in the last few years. Picture: AdobeStock
Bullying at NHS Highland has dramatically increased in the last few years. Picture: AdobeStock

Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain has expressed his “deep concern” at new figures which show that workplace bullying in NHS Highland remains a challenge.

In 2021-22, NHS Highland recorded 35 cases of bullying in that year, compared to 5 in 2017-18, an increase of 600 per cent. The stats also show there were 40 recorded cases in 2020/21.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives through Freedom of Information Requests show that there has been a near 50 per cent increase in the number of bullying cases nationally in the NHS over the last five years.

In 2019 John Sturrock QC’s report highlighted the scale of bullying within NHS Highland, after which victims of bullying and harassment were provided with compensation and mental health care via an independent Healing Process.

MSP Edward Mountain is concerned about the NHS stats. .
MSP Edward Mountain is concerned about the NHS stats. .

Edward Mountain MSP commented: “Despite the good work of the Healing Process, which I welcomed, these new figures show NHS Highland still have more to do to reduce workplace bullying.

“A zero-tolerance approach is needed as nobody should be subjected to bullying or harassment in the workplace. We are already suffering from a shortage of frontline staff across NHS Highland, so the persistence of workplace bullying is the last thing we need as we try to urgently recruit and retain staff.

“These cases will have had a damaging effect on the mental health of staff in NHS Highland who are already completely overwhelmed due to the pandemic. These figures also show that workplace bullying within our NHS is widespread across the country.

“That culture is set from the top, which ultimately means the SNP Health Secretary must get a grip on this issue urgently.”

Some of the issues recorded recorded included racial discrimination, sexual harassment and cyber-bullying. According to the data, complaints were made about race and religion, harassment and discrimination, insulting, malicious and intimidating behaviour, hostile working environments, bullying behaviours by line managers, derogatory tones, victimisation, cyber-bullying and threatening behaviour.

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