Cases of bullying and harassment at NHS Tayside have doubled in the last year amid concerns increasing numbers of staff are not being supported.
Such complaints have risen from seven in 2019/20 to 15 in 2020/21.
It comes after a major review into a “culture of bullying” at NHS Highland which the British Medical Association (BMA) says is widespread throughout the NHS in Scotland.
Former employee claims cases will be higher
Former NHS Tayside employee John McKenzie, who was a victim of bullying by management, said he feels those responsible are protected by the health board.
NHS Tayside eventually ruled his treatment, which began after a small disagreement about overtime, was unfair.
Mr McKenzie, who retired while the complaint was investigated, has “no doubt” there will be even more cases of bullying than the official tally.
He said: “If I had not pushed my case, nothing would have happened.
“It’s hard going and I can imagine many people just wouldn’t have the energy to pursue it.
“It sort of consumed me and I built up a lot of anger and frustration.”
He added: “There will absolutely be even more cases that don’t reach complaint level and that’s really worrying.”
One current employee who wished to remain anonymous said he personally knows of five live cases which involve almost 30 staff.
He said: “Staff are being treated terribly.”
‘Staff face fear and intimidation’
An independent review commissioned by the Scottish Government into issues at NHS Highland found hundreds of health workers there potentially experienced inappropriate behaviour.
The 2019 review, led by John Sturrock QC, found staff said they suffered “fear, intimidation and inappropriate behaviour at work”.
BMA Scotland has stressed the issues are not confined to NHS Highland and say many more health boards, including NHS Tayside, have similar cultural issues.
Chair Lewis Morrison said: “The statistics from NHS Tayside are concerning.
“The BMA has long been concerned about the levels of bullying and the poor culture in our NHS, as highlighted by the Sturrock report into NHS Highland.
“At the time we were clear that the issues Sturrock identified were not limited to NHS Highland and likely reflect the culture across many health boards in Scotland, where staff have told us they are experiencing bullying, harassment and discrimination.
“Looking to the future, and as our NHS recovers from the pandemic, we need to ensure that our health service is a better place to work, where there is more openness, and honesty and less focus on pressure to meet targets and apportioning blame, to enable staff to focus purely on delivering the best possible care for their patients in a safe and positive environment.”
Employees should be treated with ‘dignity and respect’
NHS Tayside said it is working hard to eradicate such behaviour from its workforce.
A spokesperson said: “NHS Tayside is committed to providing a working environment which is free from bullying and harassment and does not condone this behaviour in any form.
“Every employee of NHS Tayside has a responsibility to treat their colleagues with dignity and respect.
“We take any allegation of concerns seriously and, working closely with our trade unions, have robust policies in place to ensure that staff can feel confident to report any concerns that they may have.”