NHS Highland chiefs meet whistle-blowers

NHS Highland chiefs meet whistle-blowers Dr Chris Williams was among the whistle-blowers who met NHS Highland bosses this week. Discussions were "extensive" at the first meeting between whistle-blowers and health bosses since the NHS Highland bullying crisis erupted over a month ago, it is understood. The gathering on Tuesday evening is believed to have involved medical managers and six clinicians who have made allegations about bullying – Dr Eileen Anderson, Dr Lorien Cameron-Ross, Dr Jonathan Ball and Dr Iain Kennedy, plus Dr Alistair Todd and Dr Chris Williams. Dr Williams said both sides agreed to maintain the confidentiality of the meeting. "Right at the start of the meeting both sides agreed to take that stance and I think that will help things go forward. There has been some discomfort from consultants about this all playing out before the public," he said. The whistle-blowers are to meet NHS Scotland chief executive, Paul Gray, in Edinburgh on Monday. Dr Williams said: "I won’t be there – the idea is to keep numbers limited to keep the discussion focused. But I’ve met Paul Gray before and on the basis of previous encounters – seeing him set out how things should happen or not happen – it is a hugely important step but it is difficult to know what will come of it." The NHS Highland crisis has deepened amid the failure to appoint Elaine Mead’s successor as chief executive when she leaves next month and there is mounting pressure on the Scottish Government to launch an independent inquiry and allow arbitration. In another blow, the number of people claiming to be victims of bullying has risen to more than 120. MSP David Stewart accused Scotland’s health secretary Jeane Freeman of getting "the wrong end of the stick" after she rebuffed his calls for the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) to get involved. She said: "Acas provides conciliation and arbitration services rather than the investigation of bullying and harassment concerns." Mr Stewart said Acas indicated to him the service could intervene which would seem to undermine the health secretary’s position. "I am absolutely delighted with the response from Acas which ratifies what the GMB and I believe – that it can get involved in this. The Scottish Government’s reply completely got the wrong end of the stick here," he said. "Why would you not want an organisation which offers a conciliation and arbitration service to be involved in a serious case which desperately needs conciliation and arbitration? It’s simply bizarre." GMB regional organiser Liz Gordon said: "This has confirmed what we have known all along. The intervention of Acas would be entirely constructive for both parties at this stage." Cross-party demands for an inquiry continue with MSP Ed Mountain saying: "It baffles me, and all those who like me who cherish our NHS, why the Scottish Government is unwilling to launch an independent inquiry." A health authority spokeswoman said: "We’ve welcomed the external support that has been offered in principle by the Scottish Government, we have also invited external HR to view what we are doing internally as well as writing to the chief medical and nursing officers for their advice. "We will of course fully participate in any independent exercise should that be proven to be necessary as we have nothing to hide. But our own investigations simply do not point to what is being alleged. Surely, therefore it is in everyone’s interest that any evidence is shared."



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