NHS Lothian: care of patients ‘not main concern’

Staff at NHS Lothian are stressed and some are being bullied. Picture: Corbis
Staff at NHS Lothian are stressed and some are being bullied. Picture: Corbis
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LITTLE more than half of NHS workers in the Lothians believe the care of patients is their employer’s main concern, the results of a major staff ­survey have revealed.

While senior NHS Lothian bosses regularly say patient care and safety is the health board’s “number one priority”, a poll of staff has revealed that just 51 per cent of employees believe the statement to be true – down from 64 per cent in the previous probe in 2010.

It also emerged that less than half of NHS Lothian workers would recommend the board as a good place to work, while fewer than three in ten believe there are enough staff to allow them to do their jobs properly.

And despite the health board becoming engulfed in a high-profile bullying scandal last year, it emerged that a higher proportion of workers than at any of its Scottish counterparts had experienced bullying or harassment from colleagues.

However, the findings also revealed that 88 per cent of NHS Lothian workers were happy to “go the extra mile”, putting the region ahead of the Scottish average in that area.Labour Lothians MSP Sarah Boyack said the national study, in which 23 per cent of NHS Lothian’s 22,408 staff took part, had uncovered the “huge pressure” NHS staff were working under across Scotland.

She added: “In Lothian, there are particularly worrying responses with 17 per cent of staff reporting bullying or harassment from colleagues – the highest level in the country, less than half of staff in NHS Lothian saying that they would recommend NHS Lothian as a good place to work and only 39 per cent reported that they can meet all the conflicting demands on their time at work.

“This survey should ­concern us all and underscores the points I’ve been raising about the lack of funding and ­appropriate levels of staffing in NHS Lothian.

“I hope the Scottish Government takes the right action in response to this survey.”

It was also found that more than a third of NHS Lothian workers had put up with ­emotional or verbal abuse from patients or members of the public, with one in ten being subjected to physical violence.

Since the NHS Lothian bullying scandal was uncovered in May last year, with the publication of a damning report, the health board has come up with a new set of values, into which 3000 staff had an input.

The survey said 39 per cent of those bullied or harrassed reported it, with 38 per cent of those happy with the response. More than ten per cent – the third-highest total in Scotland – said they had been bullied or harassed by their manager. NHS Lothian chief executive Tim Davison said the results of the survey would be studied and an action plan developed by next month.

He added: “Given the recent history of NHS Lothian, we have made it a priority to ­target bullying and harassment across the organisation. We have carried out a ­significant piece of work over the last 12 months to make clear what is and what is not acceptable behaviour.

“This gives us a clearer ­picture of the extent of the issue and allows us to continue to take steps to address it.”