Scottish Government to Give Up to £1Million for NHS Highland’s Bullying Cases

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart (pictured), has been told the Scottish Government will give a maximum of just over £1million to NHS Highland to cope with the number of bullying and harassment cases being lodged.

Scottish Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, revealed the figure in the answer to a Parliamentary Question lodged by Mr Stewart, also Labour’s Shadow Public Health Minister.

The MSP has been pursuing answers on the amount of funding and the process people can use to lodge their cases following concerns from a number of constituents who continue to contact him.

“It is good that the Government has finally revealed the figure which is substantial and shows just how many people they expect to come forward and how much support it is felt those people need,” said Mr Stewart.

“I realise that Covid-19 will be extremely challenging for the health authority at this moment, but the fact that the Government has moved to help fund this process will be of some comfort to current and former staff and will hopefully cover claims for compensation.

“I hope this will mean the system will be more robust and able to give those coming forward confidence that it will be independent from the health authority and able to look anew at each individual case.”

The funding of £1,030,000 will be made available up until 31 March 2021 and Ms Freeman said, “this will support the delivery of NHS Highlands’ healing process commitments”.

The Health Secretary added that money will be made available on the basis of actual expenditure in connection with the delivery of the programme of work.

Previously Mr Stewart was told that NHS Highland did not apply to the Scottish Government for funding to set up a compensation scheme, but in the reply to his PQ Ms Freeman said the funding was made available “in accordance with NHS Highland’s financial request”.

Last year bullying and harassment victims were told they would have to seek compensation through the legal system after an NHS Highland board meeting.

Mr Stewart was concerned because there were former employees who had lost or left their jobs and, in some cases, had their careers ruined and would be unable to go to an industrial tribunal due to a time-bar on cases and would be unable to afford a civil case.