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Edward Mountain urges First Minister to hold debate on bullying in NHS following rise in cases

By Gordon Calder

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A NORTH MSP has urged the First Minister to hold a debate on bullying in the NHS following a rise of almost 50 per cent in cases nationally over the last five years.

Edward Mountain, Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands, described the issue as "vital" and challenged Nicola Sturgeon to keep her twice-made promise to debate the findings of QC, John Sturrock's report into bullying in NHS Highland.

Mr Mountain's plea comes after he highlighted the increase in cases in Scotland. In NHS Highland the number of bullying cases rose from five in 2017-18 to 40 in 2020/21, before dropping slightly to 35 in 2021/22.

Edward Mountain says it is vital debate is held on bullying in NHS
Edward Mountain says it is vital debate is held on bullying in NHS

During First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, the MSP said: "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?"

Replying Ms 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 actually implemented."

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 any way allows them to be bullied or intimidated, and John Sturrock’s recommendations certainly will help ensure that is the case."

Afterwards, Mr Mountain, 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."

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

According to the data, complaints were made about race and religion, harassment and discrimination, hostile working environments, bullying by line managers, victimisation, cyber-bullying and threatening behaviour.

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