Bullying 'still rife' within NHS boards, doctors' union warns

Dr Iain Kennedy, who helped expose bullying within the NHS in 2019, said not enough is being done to tackle the issue.

NHS Highland: Bullying by senior management ‘still rife’ within health service, doctors warn STV News

Bullying by senior NHS management in Scotland is still rife, according to the doctors’ union.

Five years after a group of clinicians went public with the problem in the Highlands, they claim patients’ welfare is still being impacted by such behaviour.

The issue has been highlighted at the British Medical Association’s UK conference in Liverpool.

A public inquiry into historic problems at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness triggered costly compensation payments of up to £2.8m and enforced action to clear the air.

The NHS Highland board line-up has changed but the union maintains that problems persist – and not just in the Highlands.

Inverness GP, Dr Iain Kennedy, one of the early whistleblowers, now heads the BMA in Scotland.

Addressing his first UK conference as leader, he said: “In 2021-22, across Scotland’s 14 territorial health boards, a total of 96 whistleblowing concerns were officially raised but I fear that we still aren’t doing anywhere near enough to support Scotland’s doctors to speak up.”

Urging the Scottish Government to do more, he added: “Value us. Value us through actions not just words.

“If we can work in a system where we are genuinely listened to, with well staffed, supported services, then working conditions will improve and crucially patient experiences and outcomes will, too.”

He told STV News that “value” meant better pay, more recruitment and guaranteeing an environment in which doctors feel free to speak out when they need to.

A union survey of almost 600 carried out last month asked if they felt comfortable raising concern about patient safety or malpractice at work.

Barely half – 52% – said they were comfortable doing so, 24% uncomfortable and 24% unsure.

The Scottish Government insists policies are in place to protect staff and patients.

In a statement, it said: “It’s vital that everyone in our health service has the confidence to raise any concerns they may have. Measures are in place to support this.

“There are also dedicated whistleblowing champions in each health board to ensure staff are encouraged and supported to speak up.”

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