NHS Highland has launched an independent 'culture review' in Argyll and Bute as part of a probe into bullying allegations.

Past and present staff are to be asked a series of questions by an independent market research firm in a bid to "understand the extent to which bullying, harassment and inappropriate behaviour is or has been encountered or experienced during their employment".

The review comes after senior clinicians at NHS Highland claimed in 2018 there was a long-standing "culture of bullying" against staff working for the organisation.

An independent review last year said staff had described suffering "fear, intimidation and inappropriate behaviour at work".

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But representatives of the GMB trade union said last month that bullying was "still rife" within the organisation, and that the health board had "ignored" parts of the independent review, led by John Sturrock QC.

A questionnaire asking current and former NHS Highland staff within Argyll and Bute to share their experiences will run until March 27.

NHS Highland is responsible for the delivery of all publicly-funded health services within Argyll and Bute, including in Helensburgh and Lomond, though day-to-day oversight of service delivery is handled by the Argyll and Bute health and social care partnership (HSCP).

Fiona Hogg, director of human resources for NHS Highland, said: “I am pleased that we have launched our Argyll and Bute Culture Review questionnaire today.

"This has been developed, and run for us, by an external market research organisation called Progressive Partnership and will help us understand the extent to which bullying, harassment and inappropriate behaviour is or has been encountered or experienced during their employment.

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“The questionnaire has been designed around the needs of Argyll and Bute, as per the suggestion in the Sturrock Report, and is open to NHS Highland colleagues, both past and present, from the Argyll and Bute area.

"The findings will help NHS Highland to ensure it takes the right actions to encourage reporting and address the causes of bullying and inappropriate behaviour.

“The online questionnaire can be filled in from a phone, tablet or personal computer, so is accessible to everyone who wants to take part.

"It will be open for six weeks and we will be promoting it through a variety of internal and external channels to ensure that as many colleagues and ex colleagues have an opportunity for their voice to be heard.

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“Progressive Partnership will be collating all the information received from the questionnaire and it is anticipated that the final report will be published in late April.”

Joanna Macdonald, chief officer of the Argyll and Bute HSCP, added: “This is an opportunity for all NHS Highland colleagues in Argyll and Bute, both past and present, to have their say and I would encourage them to fill out the questionnaire.”

The questionnaire will stay open until Friday, March 27, and can be accessed online at https://bit.ly/2vJ6UU3.

If you would like to complete a paper copy, you can request one by phoning Progressive on 0131 316 1900 or emailing info@progressivepartnership.co.uk.

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