Bullying culture: ‘NHS Lothian has attempted to act openly’

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In a large organisation such as NHS Lothian – it employs around 27,000 staff – things will go wrong. In the case of the waiting times scandal that has left 7000 patients waiting longer than they should have for treatment, it went very wrong.

But the key now is how this is tackled.

The health board, with the support of the Scottish Government, has taken swift and dramatic steps in order to reduce the still considerable waiting list problem, although it could be three years before the use of private sector hospitals is removed completely.

And yesterday it outlined a 12-point action plan to cure the bullying culture that led to the deliberate falsification of waiting list figures.

This includes a new written code of principles which staff will be consulted on and a clear whistleblowing policy. Every manager will face an assessment of their capability and competence. Only time will tell as to whether this will be a success, but NHS Lothian – led by interim chief executive Tim Davison and chairman Charles Winstanley – should be praised for its prompt action and for its attempts to be open and transparent about their current problems.

It was this lack of openness and transparency that caused the board’s problems in the first place.

Sticking to these principles in the longer term will be the key to ensuring that patients and staff build confidence in the waiting times system and in a culture which allows employees and the public to raise issues openly.

‘Pop-up’ solution

THE empty Caltongate site, cleared to make way for a major hotel, homes and offices development, is not only a reminder of difficult economic times, but also an ugly gap in the heart of the Old Town. But now a 120-room pop-up hotel is due to appear on the derelict ground to help accommodate Festival visitors.

It’s a welcome move – an innovative way of providing extra bedspaces at a time of year when there is always a shortage of affordable accommodation in the Capital.

The portable hotel will offer a place to stay right in the city centre, at the heart of the action, within easy reach of most of the Festival venues. The idea itself is something new and interesting which will contribute to the buzz of Festival time.

And when it’s all over in September, the temporary rooms will be loaded back onto lorries and be taken away, having met the city’s short-term need. No mess, no fuss, if only we could do this with some of our permanent eyesores.