NHS Highland is preparing to pay out £3.4 million to staff who suffered bullying while working there.
In April 2019, it was revealed that hundreds of staff working for the health board had been victim to bullying and harassment.
The healthcare service published a “healing process” plan to recover from the allegations and tackle the issues raised in an investigation.
This included psychological therapy, counselling and trauma treatment as well as financial compensation for those whose lives and careers were impacted.
Now, it has emerged at a health board meeting that the service expects to pay millions of pounds in financial settlements.
Hundreds of payments expected
Fiona Hogg, its director of human resources, revealed that 150 payments had been approved so far at a cost of £2m, using Scottish Government funding.
There are five levels of settlements, with two people receiving payments in the highest band – between £60,000 and £95,000.
A further six have had payments between £30,000 and £60,000 rubber-stamped so far, with 35 in the £15,000-£30,000 level.
Overall, 293 staff have received help after raising concerns about bullying and harassment.
Health board bosses say the total cost will be “in the region of” £3,415,000 – lower than an original £4.2m estimate.
Written apologies issued
At a meeting of the NHS Highland board earlier, chief executive Pam Dudek said she had written apologies to staf. The report noted 85 staff members received apologies.
“With having the privilege of doing the apologies and having access to some of the stories I have a probably deeper understanding of some of the themes and some of the personal stories,” she told attendees.
“That, for me as the chief executive, has been invaluable in starting to understand the depth and the breadth of what we need to be considering in all the work that we’re doing.
“I do have direct feedback from individuals and I would say… by far the majority have given very positive feedback.
“But it’s also fair to say that, for a small number of people that have been in contact with me – and it has been single figures – that some people haven’t felt it’s assisted them.
“We need to be cognisant of that for those individuals who have not had that experience and that’s disappointing.
“But I guess as with any program we may not be always able to address everything for everyone in that program.”
Psychological therapy offered
Ms Hogg said 205 staff had taken up the offer of psychological therapy ranging from support calls, assessments and counselling.
“It is positive to note so many people are being helped through the provision of psychological therapies that we’ve been able to offer as part of their recovery journey,” she said.
“That was always a really important aspect for us to be able to offer.
“The NHS is fully committed to learning from the process and to making sure that we do all we can to be a great place to work.”
It was set up by the health board, whistleblowers and trade unions – and funded by the Scottish Government – to give those affected access to independent experts and advice.