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04/06/13 00:01

Dignity at work

£200,000 for anti-bullying projects in NHS Scotland.

Up to £200,000 will be made available to health boards to fund projects that tackle bullying and harassment in the workplace, it was announced today.

The funding will be to further expand the ‘dignity at work toolkit’, which aims to make sure that all NHS staff feel valued, are being listened to and are being treated with respect.

Health Secretary Alex Neil made the announcement ahead of the ‘Whistleblowing - raising concerns within the NHS Scotland’ conference, which is joint funded by Scottish Government and the Scottish Patients Association.

Mr Neil is also expected to confirm in his conference speech that NHS Scotland does not support or condone ‘gagging orders’ on staff who raise any concerns about patient safety.

Mr Neil said:

“Across our NHS much has been done to tackle bullying and harassment in the workplace.

“However, feedback suggests that bullying and harassment may still be an issue across our workplace.

“I am very clear that we will not tolerate bullying of any kind in our NHS. It is not good for our hardworking NHS staff and it is not good for patients.

“Also it is vitally important that all NHS workers feel that they can raise any concerns they may have safely and confidentially, and following the Francis Inquiry, be reassured that health boards will listen.

“By encouraging staff to raise concerns, Scotland’s Health Boards have the opportunity to identify potential problems at an early stage. This not only makes the NHS a better place to work, it also leads to a better health service for patients.”

Notes to editors

A free, confidential phone line for NHS staff who wish to raise any concerns about practices in NHSScotland is currentrly being piloted.

The Alert Line provides a safe space for staff to discuss and report any concerns they may have about patient safety and malpractice in the knowledge that their identity will be protected.

The Health Secretary wrote to all health boards on 22 February 2013 reminding them that confidentiality clauses are not used to prevent staff reporting concerns about practice in the NHS in Scotland.

What is bullying?

Bullying at work means harassing, socially excluding someone or negatively affecting someone's work tasks. In order for the label bullying to be applied to a particular activity, interaction or process, it has to occur repeatedly and regularly and over a period of time.

Bullying is an escalating process in the course of which the person confronted ends up in an inferior position and becomes the target of systematic negative social acts.

Bullying damages lives. The emotional stress it inflicts can lead to poor work performance, absenteeism, even force an individual to leave their job.

Dignity at Work promotes five building blocks that you will need to be successful in promoting respect and tackling bullying in the workplace.

What is whistleblowing?

The Implementing & Reviewing Whistleblowing Arrangements in NHSScotland Policy ( was published in December 2011.

This aims to ensure that staff can safely raise concerns where they are witness to risk, malpractice or wrongdoing that affects others.

It sets out the rights of staff in relation to whistleblowing, particularly in relation to protection from victimisation as a result of raising a concern in good faith.

It also sets out to whom concerns may be formally raised internally within organisations, as well as to whom they may be raised, in certain prescribed circumstances, externally.

It particularly emphasises that an organisational culture should be such that raising of concerns is specifically encouraged.