Humza Yousaf is being urged to intervene following allegations of bullying at East Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP).
Trade union Unison wants the health secretary and Scottish Government regulators to take action into an investigation conducted by East Dunbartonshire Council into reports of poor management and a culture of bullying at the local authority’s HSCP.
The investigation was set up in November 2019 but was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and finally concluded in late 2021.
However, Unison say the local authority and HSCP “have failed to engage meaningfully with the union” on the report’s findings.
Simon Macfarlane, Unison regional organiser said: “From the outset we asked for an independent element to ensure objectivity and build confidence; the council repeatedly refused this.
“Notwithstanding the pandemic, the council took an excessive time to investigate the issues – over two years.
“The final report, published in December 2021, has still not been shared with social work staff. We think this is a major omission.
‘We, therefore, lack confidence that the council and HSCP intend doing anything and have, therefore, written to Humza Yousaf and regulators calling on them to act.’Simon Macfarlane, Unison regional organiser
“To date, there has been no action plan from the council or HSCP to take forward their own recommendations, nor a meeting with Unison to discuss our response and members have no indication when or if their appeals will be heard.
“We, therefore, lack confidence that the council and HSCP intend doing anything and have, therefore, written to Humza Yousaf and regulators calling on them to act.”
Unison has written to Yousaf to express its concerns about the council’s report, which is entitled “Allegations of poor management, culture and bullying within East Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership, Social Work Services; Overall Summary Report and Recommendations”.
The union also wrote to Lorraine Gray, the chief executive of the Scottish Social Services Council; Edith Macintosh, the interim chief executive of the Care Inspectorate; and Iona Colvin, the Scottish Government’s chief social work advisor.
Gerry Cornes, chief executive of East Dunbartonshire Council, said the report concluded there “was no evidence of bullying or intimidation” within the local authority’s services.
He said: “The council investigated the initial allegations in relation to social work, which were made through whistleblower and grievance procedures and were addressed as such.
“Detailed fact finding reports were undertaken as part of the investigation. These will not be shared, but the outcomes have been communicated to those involved.
“A comprehensive 51 page outcome summary report was produced on conclusion of the investigation and shared with trades unions, including Unison, and with the relevant regulators in December 2021.
‘The conclusion of the investigation is that there was no evidence of bullying or intimidation in our social work services.’Gerry Cornes, chief executive of East Dunbartonshire Council
“The conclusion of the investigation is that there was no evidence of bullying or intimidation in our social work services.
“Additional work was identified as required in a small number of areas so that effective relationship building and communications are in place to ensure all employees feel supported and valued in the teams in which they work.
“It is the council’s intention to publish the outcome summary report after the local government elections.
“It will be shared with the relevant employees in the first instance and the council is also finalising the arrangements for the procedures that remain pending following the communication of investigation outcomes to individuals.”
Unison claimed in its letter to the health secretary that its members had heard nothing for many weeks about individual outcomes and had been left with no indication of appeal hearings being set.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have received the letter – and while these issues are a matter for councils to resolve with their staff, we will follow up with the council leadership and Unison to see if we can assist in resolving the issues.”