Calls for quick publication of NHS bullying findings

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Calls have been made for the swift publication of a report into the alleged bullying culture at NHS Lothian after Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed she had already received its preliminary findings.

The independent investigation into management culture at NHS Lothian was launched after auditors discovered there had been large-scale manipulation of waiting times figures at the health board.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, which carried out the waiting lists investigation, also reported allegations that staff had been put under unacceptable pressure not to deliver “bad news” on waiting lists, and said there was a pervasive overbearing management culture.

The results of a further probe into management culture were due to have been handed to Ms Sturgeon last month by PWC and David J Bowles & Associates, but none of its findings has yet been made public.

Just days before it was due for completion, the health board’s chief executive, James Barbour, announced his retirement.

Tom Waterson, Lothian branch member for Unison, said: “I think possibly with the amount of people they’ve interviewed, it’s taken longer than anticipated to complete, but we would welcome the report being published as soon as possible.”

In response to questions asked in the Scottish Parliament by Sarah Boyack MSP yesterday, Ms Sturgeon said: “I received the initial findings of the investigation at the end of April. I’m expecting to see the final, formal report in the next day or two and the report will be published as soon as practicable thereafter.”

Ms Boyack said she would keep up the pressure for the report to be published as soon as possible. “I welcome the fact that we will see the report soon,” she said. “It is imperative that staff and patients are given the assurance that the report’s findings will be acted upon.”

It was announced last week that Audit Scotland is to carry out a nationwide probe into NHS waiting lists in the wake of the NHS Lothian scandal.

Ms Boyack also quizzed Ms Sturgeon on the moves being taken to ensure that waiting lists in Lothian were brought under control. Around 5000 extra patients were revealed to have been waiting longer than the 18-week target once staff halted the practice of wrongly suspending people from waiting lists.

Ms Sturgeon said: “There is an expert Scottish Government team working with NHS Lothian to ensure that issues around capacity are addressed for the long term so that NHS Lothian are able to deliver to the waiting time guarantees for all patients in a sustainable way.

“Obviously interim chief executive Tim Davison is working very hard on all these matters.”