More than 500 cases of bullying in NHS in space of five years

More than 500 cases involving allegations of bullying or harassment have been raised across the NHS in Scotland over the past five years, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed.

The problem is 'NHS wide'. Picture: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Medical leaders are now warning that bullying has become “rife” in the NHS in Scotland and called on the Scottish Government to take action to “root out” the problem.

Ministers have established a working group to look into the issue after problems were brought to light at NHS Highland earlier this year.

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But the chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Scotland, Lewis Morrison, will today call on the Government to take action to “rebuild trust”. “I think it is clear that bullying and harassment is the issue that has dominated the NHS in Scotland this year,” he will say.

“The issues aren’t new, but are only now coming fully to light.

“Our member survey showed that nearly four in ten doctors had seen bullying in their workplace. That was swiftly followed by serious concerns in NHS Highland being raised, in particular by four doctors who bravely decided to go public. Cases in many other health boards emphasise the problem is NHS wide.”

A FOI request by the BMA has revealed more than 560 cases involving allegations of bullying or harassment have been raised across the NHS in Scotland over the past five years. But the report by John Sturrock QC into NHS Highland indicated how difficult staff find it to report instances of bullying and BMA leaders believe the figure is unlikely to provide the full picture.

Dr Morrison said: “This FOI gives a further indication of the concerning number of cases raised. But I believe it is unlikely to show the complete picture – not least as the Sturrock review showed how hard staff currently find it to raise cases.” A Scottish Government spokesman said ministers were determined to tackle bullying.

“The welfare of staff in our NHS is paramount and we expect NHS boards to do everything possible to eradicate bullying in the workplace,” he said. “The health secretary, in the Scottish Government’s response to the Sturrock review, set out a package of measures to support the reinforcement of positive working cultures across our health service.”