Added 2 July 2020


Increased use of facemasks by NHS staff:


The following is guidance from the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Nursing Officer (23 June):


"It is now recommended that staff working in a clinical area of an acute adult (incl. mental health) or community hospital or in an care home for the elderly should wear a medical face mask at all times throughout their shift. In relation to care homes , it is expected that this advice will be relevant in the first place to care homes for adults and older people. "Extended" in this regard means that a medical face mask will be worn throughout the shift, but the face mask can be removed and replaced as necessary (washing your hands before the mask is removed), and as recommended during the shift, including e.g. if it becomes contaminated, damaged or moist"


Further guidance on this will be circulated in the next few days.  If you feel that this is not being applied in your workplace, please contact the Branch

Added 1 May 2020


NHS Highland Employee Assistance Programme

Employee Assistance Programme.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [1.1 MB]

Added 26 February 2020

Added 10 January 2020


NHS Highland is developing a new "Our Culture Commitments" charter as part of the response to the Sturrock report etc.  We will circulate this to members for comment.  An updated action plan is also being developed and we will be asking how members can be involved in shaping this.  look out for direct member communications on these issues (or contact the Branch if interested).

Added 8 November 2019


New Branch Twitter account now active.  Do follow/re-tweet etc.  It's available here:



Added 1 August 2019




UNISON Highland Healthcare Branch welcomes and accepts the Sturrock report and its findings, and is now look-ing to NHS Highland for full implementation. We welcome the fact that a "Draft 1" action plan in response has been prepared by NHS Highland, and that this has been widely circulated. We note roadshows and focus groups are being planned for staff, and we would recommend to all members that you consider going along to your local event to have your say.


This situation gives us some significant opportunities to change things for the better, and our own Branch action to further support members will include:


All UNISON reps will be re-trained in supporting members who may feel they have been bullied.

Other training will be offered to members to learn about how to recognise and raise issues about inappro-priate behaviour. If there is to be a culture change in NHS Highland, this involves all of us.

UNISON will hold NHS Highland to account in delivering the action plan.

We will clarify our position on the issues around whether compensation should be paid, whether historic cases should be re-opened, etc. This is a complex area and will need to involve both discussions at a national level, staffside discussion locally, and negotiation with NHS Highland. We will keep you informed of develop-ments.

We will offer UNISON meetings for you to attend and contribute your views to the overall debate. Please come along if you can. We will publicise these meetings through a variety of channels of communication.

We will write to all members asking for interest in becoming more active in the Branch – in a range of ways. UNISON is a member-led union and the Branch always welcomes new input.


This is an initial response and the position will develop further.

Janette McQuiston, Branch Secretary

Added 31 July 2019


Lots of things have been happening recently, and while we've been updating the Facebook page pretty much daily, teh website has fallen behind slightly!  However, we're trying to address that.  See below latest article on the NHS Highland "Culture Fit for the Future" action plan:



You should by now be aware of the NHS Highland (Draft 1.0) action plan in response to the Sturrock re-port, which was circulated to all staff by email by the Chief Executive, on 7 June. If you have missed this, and would like a copy, please contact the Branch. We can send this by email or on paper.

So, what does it say in the action plan?

The Action Plan is structured around 5 themes:

Communications & Engagement

Human Resource (HR) Processes

Organisation and Workforce Development (OD)

Support for Staff


It takes in both the many "proposals" of the Sturrock report, and also other work (which UNISON was key to) which took place after the allegations were origi-nally made public (end September last year) and the publication of the Sturrock report (May ’19).

It is described as: "A first step in addressing the proposals highlighted in the aforementioned reports. The intention now is to build upon and enhance this plan with ongoing positive engagement with staff and stakeholders".

This means you! NHS Highland will arrange various activities that staff can contribute to and be involved in, such as executive "roadshows" and staff focus groups. Please look out for these happening in your area, and go along if you can. We will publicise these to mem-bers as we get the information. We (UNISON) are also organising our own programme of meetings for members.

There are a very large number of actions identified in the plan – too many to summarise here. Actions are divided into short, medium and longer term. We’ve picked just one action from each of the "themes" which might be of interest to UNISON members (quoting from the plan):


Leadership Roadshow - Employee Engagement Ses-sions: Roadshows to take place across the whole or-ganisation led by the Chief Executive and/or Senior Leadership Team and Non-Executive Directors. The aim will be to discuss the Sturrock Report and shape the Action Plan going forward with input from staff. This will reinforce NHS Highland’s values and our commitment to provide opportunities for staff to en-gage with important issues.

Outcome - Staff will feel included and engaged in the development of the Action Plan and understand NHS Highland’s commitment to creating a healthy, positive culture. Visible leadership of Chief Executive, Senior Leadership Team and Board.

HR processes:

Resolving concerns using informal processes: Sup-ported by Once for Scotland policies, promote and encourage the appropriate use of informal methods such as mediation, pastoral care, group facilitation and coaching to managers and staff.

Outcome - Increased use of informal processes to bring about resolution at an early stage and reduced requirement for formal processes.

Organisational Development:

Values: Review organisation’s published values and where appropriate refresh, ensuring staff engagement in their development and adoption to ensure the or-ganisation’s values are clearly aligned to NHS Scotland.

Outcome - Refreshed values adopted throughout the organisation.

Staff support:

Mediation: Access to mediation is required as a pre-ventative and restorative measure providing a safe space for people to talk. This is essential for both those perceived as 'victims' as well as those perceived as 'perpetrators' for healing to occur.

Outcome - A fully established and resourced mediation service to be available at an early stage to avoid formal processes.


Board Training: A formal induction and ongoing train-ing programme for both Executive and Non-Executive Board members, developed and implemented to re-build confidence and provide more support in their role and better connection with organisational purpose and cultural ethos.

Outcome - Board members provided with induction and ongoing training and more confident in fulfilling their role.

So – lots to do, and we want you involved!

Do have a look at the plan, and we’d be keen to hear from you either face-to-face or by email/telephone. Please contact the Branch if you have anything you would like to share, or if you need support/advice.



Added 30 January 2019

UNISON Evidence to QC Review of NHS Highland Culture

It goes without saying that UNISON’s position is that any bullying/intimidatory behaviour, whoever this may be perpetrated by, is unacceptable and needs to be dealt with promptly, fairly, consistently, and at an appropriate level.

UNISON has raised concerns about bullying behaviour periodically over a number of years.  Our perspective would be that bullying can be perpetrated by managers, colleagues, other professional, or subordinate staff.

There are some areas (and instances) where such behaviour has been a problem.

Equally there are many members who do not report bullying behaviour.

We welcome the external review of NHS Highland culture, and look forward to working with management and other trade unions in considering and implementing any actions which the review will recommend.  We have encouraged our members, on a number of occasions, to make contact with the review direct, if they wish to do so.  Our motivation is to improve the working experience for our members and, as appropriate, support them to raise concerns if necessary.  We believe that this is best achieved through partnership working with management, and other trade unions.  The staffside structure up to and including the role of Employee Director, governance committees, and informal routes of influence and joint working, offer the appropriate mechanisms for this.  We understand that there are some perceptions that these structures are not effective.  We do not necessarily share this view, but will certainly listen to any recommendations there may be in this regard.

Other specific issues we would wish to raise are as follows:

1.         We believe that HR processes in dealing with formal employment relations matters are not working effectively, and often take too long.  This includes some concerns about the use and length of suspensions, and the outcomes of some investigation processes.

2.            Management training is an issue.  The evidence is that bullying complaints are best dealt with at an informal level, if possible.  The quickest and most informal level would be a discussion with your manager, with appropriate, proportionate, swift response.  This does not always happen, therefore issues either “fester” without resolution, and/or escalate to formal process

3.            Capacity to deal with formal complaints within a reasonable timescale is an issue.  Capacity and/or the organisational priority placed on employment relations processes (including bullying/harassment) by NHS Highland.  An option to address this could be the consideration of appointment of a dedicated team to carry out investigations, even if perhaps as a fixed-term measure to deal with current (very long) timescales.

4.            There seems to be (on occasion) a different level of accountability for managers and staff. This inconsistency needs to be addressed.

5.            It would be useful to have agreed, and further, clarity on the role of HR – whether these staff are there to “support management” or whether they are there to provide impartial, balanced, advice to all staff.  This may contribute to a loss of confidence in HR staff which has been evidenced in some quarters.

6.            We are not aware of any process in place to learn (in partnership) from previous formal cases.  We would welcome a mechanism similar to that of the Significant Event Review to constructively consider, in particular, lengthy/complex cases to see what we can collectively learn from these to do differently going forward

7.            There is no practice of “joining the dots” where (for example) a number of (different, individual) cases are raised within a department.  Also linking to other indicators such as sickness absence, turnover, etc.

8.            We consider that the current (unprecedented) financial situation in NHS Highland may well have contributed to increased pressure on staff (including managers) which may have contributed to actual, or perceptions of, bullying behaviour.  Staff, at all levels, need support with this, and clear leadership, to challenge and change this culture going forward.

9.            We are interested in the idea (being explored in a small way) of “mental health first aiders” and feel that we would like to contribute to/develop this further.  It is inevitable that there will be significant numbers of staff experiencing mental health issues, and this may also contribute to the overall picture.

10.          We are concerned at the impact on patient/public confidence that the media “storm” around these issues has caused, and this will require to be carefully rebuilt accordingly.

11.          We also have concerns about the approach and behaviour of another trade union.  There are also some individual concerns from staff along the lines of “is my name on the list, if so where is my right to defend myself” etc. 

12.          We broadly support the outcomes and recommendations of the external HR review commissioned by NHS Highland, and are already working to implement these.

As stated above, we look forward to the outcome of the external review, and to working with management and trade union colleagues to implement the recommendations.

Janette McQuiston, UNISON Branch Secretary, Highland Healthcare, January 2019.

Added 28 November 2018


Information on EU Settlement Scheme


I am writing to tell you about the Home Office pilot of the EU Settlement Scheme taking place from 29 November 2018 and how those eligible can apply in this pilot phase.


What is the EU Settlement Scheme?


In advance of the UK’s exit from the EU on 29 March 2019, the UK government has committed to protect the rights of EU citizens and their family members currently living in the UK. This includes the right to live here, work here and access public services such as healthcare and benefits. To retain these rights after 31 December 2020, EU citizens must apply for UK immigration status under the EU Settlement Scheme. Further detail on the Settlement Scheme can be found on GOV.UK.


What is the pilot?


The Home Office is testing the EU Settlement Scheme through a series of pilots ahead of the public launch. This second phase of the pilot starts in November and runs until 21 December this year. This covers employees in the higher education and health and social care sectors. A briefing pack containing an overview of the pilot, who is eligible and how the application will work is available here.


This pilot is testing the application process that EU citizens and their family members will use when the scheme opens fully next year. Feedback about your experience will be used to make improvements to the process before the Scheme fully launches to the public by 30 March 2019.


Who is eligible?


You will only be able to take part in the pilot if you are working in the health and social care sector, and you are:

  • an EU citizen and have a valid biometric passport (this is an e-passport which has a digital chip); or

  • a non-EU family member of an EU citizen and have a biometric residence card with ‘EU Right to Reside’ on the back, which you applied for on or after 6 April 2015


Irish citizens enjoy a right of residence in the UK that is not reliant on the UK’s membership of the EU. They will not be required to apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme, but may do so if they wish. For more information on who can apply to this pilot, visit GOV.UK.


If you are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme pilot you will need to complete a short and simple online application form to:


  • prove your identity;

  • show that you live in the UK; and

  • declare any serious criminal convictions.


Application process during the pilot:


This phase of the pilot goes live on 29 November and the link to start your application will be made available from this date. We will send you an email containing the link to complete your application when the pilot goes live.


To apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme you will need to complete an online application:

  • Verify your identity - You will need to have a valid biometric passport or biometric residence card (issued by the Home Office) to apply in this pilot. All applicants must use the EU Exit: ID Document Check app to verify their identity. This is currently only available to download on Android devices - an easy way to check if your device can use this app, is if your device has the technology to make contactless payments. A guide to using the app can be found here. If you cannot access this app during the pilot, there will be alternative ways for you to verify your identity once the scheme opens fully next year. After using the app to verify your identity, you can complete the rest of the application either on that device or on any smartphone, laptop or computer.

  • Criminality check - You will need to complete the criminality check by declaring any criminal convictions. Only serious or persistent criminality will affect your application. This should not affect the vast majority of EU citizens and their family members.

  • Verify your residence in the UK - You will need to provide evidence of your residence in the UK. There are a number of ways you can do this. The easiest is to provide your National Insurance number. The Home Office will then check UK tax and certain benefits data and use those records to help work out how long you have been resident in the UK. You’ll get a result of this check straightaway. If you agree with the result, you can accept it and complete your application. If you disagree, this is not a problem, as you will be able to upload additional evidence of your residence. Information on the other types of evidence you can upload can be found on GOV.UK. Alternatively, if you have a valid permanent residence document or valid indefinite leave to enter or remain, you will just need to provide proof of that status.

  •  Pay any application fee – An application costs £65 for those aged 16 or over, but is free if you have a valid permanent residence document or valid indefinite leave to enter or remain.


Please note that making an application in this pilot is entirely voluntary. There will be no change to your current rights under EU law until the end of the planned implementation period on 31 December 2020. If you choose not to apply during this phase you will be able to apply once the scheme is fully open by 30 March 2019 and at any time up until 30 June 2021.


For any questions about an application made during the pilot, contact the EU Settlement Scheme Resolution Centre by calling 0300 123 7379 (inside the UK) or +44 (0) 203 080 0010 (outside the UK). Find out about call charges on www.gov.uk/call-charges. You can also ask a question using the online submissions form eu-settled-status-enquiries.service.gov.uk.


Further details on the pilot and how to make an application will be circulated shortly.



Added 26 October 2018


Since the media storm broke, UNISON has been beavering away to make contact with members and also to seek answers from NHS Highland. We believe this action is more important than chasing headlines, or 'shouting' at each other through the media (although we have made media comments on a number of occasions as well).

We thought it would be useful for us to get in touch with the most important people - you, the members - direct to bring you up to date with some of what has been happening and what the Branch has been doing on your behalf.

Some of our actions so far have been:

·        Communicating direct with members - and receiving some very useful feedback. This is currently being collated and we will be preparing a report on our findings from what you have told us, please be assured all feedback is treated as confidential and anonymised

·        Arranging a number of members' meetings - again so Branch reps can speak to members direct, rather than us second-guessing what you might be thinking about this situation. Of course in life there are few things which are black and white, and members have expressed to us a lot of different views, both positive and negative, about working in NHS Highland. We remain keen to hear any thoughts you may have about the situation. These meetings are ongoing. If you would like one in your workplace, please contact the Branch (details below)

·        Co-ordinating a joint Staffside statement with colleagues in other unions (not including the GMB, who declined to sign up to the statement). This was issued via an all-user email in NHS Highland on 8 October. If you haven't seen this and would like to, please get in touch

·        Arranging and facilitating a staffside meeting with senior managers/Board members, which took place on 15 October. Following on from this, it was agreed that a joint steering group would be established to look at the information being gathered, both historic and current, and start to consider plans and proposals for moving forward. This group will then also work with whatever external support is identified for NHS Highland by Scottish Government. We will also strongly represent members' interests in this

·        We have been invited (along with other trade union colleagues) to meet with the Scottish Government direct (without NHS Highland Board involvement) and at this point it looks like this meeting will take place on 19 November. We will update you further after this

·        The Branch has also raised concerns with the Scottish Partnership Forum with regard to some of the HR processes in NHS Highland and some significant delays in these (including relating to concerns about bullying). We are meeting with management on these issues on 7 November. At this point this is a UNISON-only initiative.

We hope that you will agree that UNISON's response has been proportionate and appropriate. We need to recognise the wide spectrum of views here, and also ensure that those who have felt, or are feeling, bullied are appropriately and swiftly supported to raise concerns and have these addressed.

We're still keen to hear from members with any thoughts, either positive or negative, about the situation. You can contact the Branch on 01463 715891 or by email at inverness.office@unison.co.uk.

We will also provide further updates as required, in particular relating to the steering group and the Scottish Government meeting referred to above. Keep an eye on the website and Facebook page also.


Janette McQuiston, Branch Secretary


Added 24 October 2018


The Branch has been in touch with members, but we will shortly be contacting memebrs direct with an update on the situation regarding the bullying allegations in NHS Highland.  We know that some members have experiencing bullying, and need support in taking these concerns forward.  We have repeatedly stated UNISON's view that bullying is unacceptable in any form,  The Branch is also in touch with the employer and with the Scottish Government on these issues.  Check back for the update in the next few days.


Meantime. NHS Highland's latest statement can be found here:



Added 17 August 2018



Details of the pay deal accepted by UNISON members:


 All NHS Scotland staff earning under £80,000 to receive a 3% pay increase backdated to April 1, 2018, with a payment of £1600 for staff earning more than £80,000


 The top of all pay scales to rise by 9% over the lifetime of the three-year deal (including 2018) or £1600 per annum for scales above £80,000


 Larger increments and faster progression for staff in post, but not yet at the top of their pay band – worth between 11.3% and 27.7%


 Removal of band overlaps to ensure promotion comes with a proper pay rise and to lessen the risk of equal pay challenges


 Big improvements in starting salaries to help the NHS attract and retain new staff


 Applies to all NHS contractor staff

Added 17 August 2018


UNISON Press Release

UNISON calls on Scottish Government to devolve trade union pay negotiations

Embargoed Friday 17 at 10.15am


UNISON, Scotland’s biggest health union, is calling on the Scottish Government to set up formal structures to negotiate direct with NHS unions in Scotland and officially leave the UK’s NHS Pay Review Body.


The call comes after NHS members voted to accept a new three year pay deal direct with the Scottish Government after years of being given 1% pay rises from through UK’s NHS Pay Review Body. This is the first year this has happened.


The UK’s NHS Pay Review Body negotiates with health unions on pay on behalf of the NHS across the UK. UNISON members do not believe that the NHS Pay Review Body listens to their concerns. It has been calling on the Scottish government to set up pay negotiating structures directly with unions on pay and conditions in Scotland.


Tom Waterson, Chair of the UNISON Health Committee said: "Today I am pleased to announce that 94% of UNISON members have voted to accept a pay deal which will put an additional £400m on the pay bill, delivering real increases of between 3 and 27% for NHS workers in Scotland. This deal and it’s strong endorsement by members makes it clear that we do not need to wait cap in hand for the Pay Review Body and that the institution as it stands is dead in the water. Eighteen months ago some people said that we couldn’t negotiate a pay deal for NHS workers in Scotland. Then they said that we couldn’t negotiate a better deal for Scotland. The Scottish Government should commit now to develop negotiating structures in Scotland and allow us to self determine on pay."


UNISON Head of Health for UNISON Scotland Matt McLaughlin said, "This is a good result for UNISON members and I am happy that across Scotland we reached out to and engaged with the vast majority of our members. Their decision is a ringing endorsement of the offer."


Notes for editors:

UNISON was the only major union in NHS Scotland to recommend the deal to members and has engaged in a month long consultation process across Scotland.

The union consulted almost 60,000 NHS workers in Scotland in a four week ballot.

Added 27 July 2018


Datix Reporting

This is partly as a result of some concerns expressed at New Craigs, but is also worthy of wider interest.

Staff side representatives would like to provide further information to address our concerns in relation to the perception of some staff that they have been instructed not to complete DATIX reports in relation to staffing levels.  We would like to remind staff that, regardless of any instruction otherwise all staff have a responsibility under Health and Safety legislation and Registered Nurses under the NMC Code to report any concerns (of course there are also other similar professional responsibilities for other staff groups).  We would not expect any employee to comply with an instruction from someone in authority to manually lift an unreasonable weight and in the same way we would hope that no-one would comply with an instruction to not report a concern that risks patient or staff safety. All NHS employees have a contractual right and a duty to raise concerns with their employer that they consider to be in the public interest – including malpractice, patient safety, financial impropriety, or any other serious risks.  We recognise that it can be very difficult for individual members of staff to challenge seniors and would be happy to provide support with anonymity if appropriate.

Professional duties

As (for example) a registered nurse or midwife, under The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Code you have a number of responsibilities to act on concerns where you believe actions or situations are putting people at potential or actual risk. The NMC has produced a publication Raising Concerns: Guidance for Nurses and Midwives (2013). Although health care assistants and assistant practitioners do not work under The Code, the RCN and UNISON would support any health care assistant who wished to raise concerns regarding staffing levels.

RCN and UNISON publications for more information can be found at:




This guidance note was developed in partnership by:

Margaret MacRae (RCN) mmacrae@nhs.net

Anne Campbell (UNISON) anne.campbell8@nhs.net


Added 16 July 2018


NHS Pay Ballot - UNISON Scotland's ballot on the pay deal opens today. You will receive an email at about 11am this morning telling you about how to vote. UNISON is recommending acceptance of the offer. Please use your vote. For those without an email address in the UNISON system, we will contact you to advise how you can vote, prefereably online, but alternatively by telephone.


PS This is a NO STRINGS deal, there are NO changes to your terms and conditions.

Added 12 July 2018


Pre Retirement

2 day course in Inverness

Dates: 2 August & 6 September

Time: 10am – 4pm

Are you over 50? Thinking of retiring or getting back into work or simply looking to make a positive change in your life? Then this course is for you. Throughout the session we will explore key themes around life transitions, the opportunities as well as the challenges. We will learn practices in mindfulness, relaxation, wellbeing and creative reflection to

*Increase quality of life and satisfaction

*Improve self-esteem and sense of purpose

*Reduce stress, anxiety, pain and social isolation

*Improve mental capacity and concentration

*Encourage overall relaxation and enjoyment.

With Margot Henderson


This workshop is fully funded and open to all staff.

If you wish to book a place please contact Marta Chaba, UNISON Lifelong Learning Organiser  m.chaba@unison.co.uk 01463 723968

Added 4 July 2018

Article from the Inverness Courier

Added 4 July 2018


Details of the NHS Scotland pay offer here:




Added 1 June 2018


At the time of writing we haven’t yet heard about when this will be paid. Members need to be aware, though, that UNISON is the ONLY union arguing that the 3% pay rise should be paid (on account) now. ALL other unions feel that we can wait for a pay rise.  UNISON submitted a claim for a separate Scottish pay rise (3.9%).  We know that members are suffering now - so are continuing our call to the Scottish Government to pay up now!  Some other unions are claiming various things about pay.  You need to know that UNISON is leading the way on this, on behalf of you our members, and we expect some positive news on this very soon.


Added 1 June 2018




We are delighted to advise that Highland Healthcare Branch of UNISON is the first UNISON branch in Scotland to gain sign-up to UNISON’s Apprenticeship Charter.  NHS Highland were in full support of this.


Dawne Bloodworth, HR Director, confirmed today that NHS Highland are happy to sign up to UNISON’s Apprenticeship Charter.  Dawne said:


“The Charter promotes exactly the kind of things NHS Highland is looking to do; to enable increased permanent recruitment of, and support for, apprentices in Health and Social Care in the Highlands.  We are keen to work with UNISON and other partner trade unions to increase the numbers of apprentices recruited and to make sure they are supported and developed through their apprenticeships.”


Janette McQuiston, UNISON Branch Secretary, said:


“We welcome NHS Highland’s support for UNISON’s Apprenticeship Charter, and we look forward to working with the employer and other trade union colleagues to turn these promises into reality”.


The Charter provides important guarantees to apprentices, including payment at the right rate for the job, and a job guarantee on completion of their apprenticeship.


Added 12 March 2018




A story has appeared in the press about an impending pay deal for NHS staff.


UNISON has been leading these pay talks since December and yes, we are very close to a final position which we can put to our members for consideration.


However, the details in the article are incomplete, unconfirmed and inaccurate in part. I don’t know what the motivation is for leaking this story, but the real consequences could either be to scupper the chances of health workers getting a decent deal or to prevent the NHS trade unions being able to present the final position to the media ourselves on behalf of you, our members.


Either way, spreading incomplete information is unhelpful.


I will be working really hard this weekend to finalise the details of the proposed package and – more importantly – keep the pressure on the government to confirm the funding so that we can finish the talks and get the final details to you.

I want to reassure you that you will not be asked to make any decisions until you have the full picture about how any proposals will affect you.


Sara Gorton
Head of Health, UNISON
Unison health



Added 23 January 2018


I would like to draw your attention to courses available to UNISON members (free of charge) in forthcoming months:




5 February
9.00 am - 4.30 pm

Emergency First Aid at Work (accredited)
A comprehensive course providing sufficient knowledge and practical skills to allow the participants to deal with sudden illness and emergencies.


6 February
3.00 pm - 6.00 pm
(six weeks/one afternoon a week)

PC Passport - Intermediate Level
The qualification will give you opportunities to:
Develop the knowledge and skills that will enable you to create, store and share your word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and database documents.
Develop your knowledge and understanding of the use of web-based applications and services.


7 February
1.30 pm - 4.00 pm

Pre-Retirement 'The Best is yet to come' (This course will focus on wellbeing)
Are you over 50?  Are you thinking of retiring or recently retired?  Are you facing redundancy?
Then this course is for you.
In this short course we will look into dealing with change, mindfulness, wellbeing and creative reflection, this course aims to enhance participants' well-being, resilience and social connectedness. 


13 -14 February
9.00 am - 4.30 pm

Mental Health First Aid
How to respond if you believe someone is at risk of suicide.
How to give immediate help until professional help is available.
What to say and do in a crisis.
The importance of good listening skills.
Practice listening and responding.
Understanding recovery from mental health problems.
Understanding the connection between mental health problems and alcohol and drugs.
Understanding the connection between mental health problems and discrimination.
Some basic information about common mental health problems. Self help information.


17 April
6.00 pm - 8.30 pm
(eight weeks/one evening a week)

Microsoft Computer Skills (Excel)
Cell basics; Modifying columns, rows and cells; Formatting cells; Understanding number formats; Working with Multiple work sheets; Find and replace Spell Checking Page; Layout and printing; Intro to formulas; Creating more complex formulas; Relative and Absolute Cell references; Introduction to functions; Basic Tips for working with data; Freezing panes and view options; Sorting data; Filtering data Groups and Subtotals tables; Charts; Conditional formatting; Track changes and Comments; Inspecting and protecting Workbooks; Intro to pivot tables; Pivot tables.


18 April
6.00 pm - 8.30 pm
(eight weeks/one evening a week)

Computer and Online Basic SCQF Level3
Introduction to computer, keyboard and mouse; Understanding what you see on the screen; How to write and print letters and documents; Getting Online safely and searching websites; Sending emails and reading replies.

Fort William

9.00am - 2.00 pm on the following dates:
19 April
26 April
3 May
10 May

Computer and Online Basic SCQF Level3
Introduction to computer, keyboard and mouse.
Understanding what you see on the screen; How to write and print letters and documents; Getting Online safely and searching websites; Sending emails and reading replies.


23 April
9.30 am - 3.30 pm

Mental Health Awareness (Open University)
Understand the most common mental health problems that people face Gain an insight into the experience of having mental distress Explore some strategies for promoting good mental health.  Be able to take a revised awareness to the workplace.


24 April
9.30 am - 3.30 pm

Mental Health Awareness (Open University)
Understand the most common mental health problems that people face; Gain an insight into the experience of having mental distress; Explore some strategies for promoting good mental health; Be able to take a revised awareness to the workplace.


26 April
9.30 am - 3.30 pm

Dealing with clients displaying challenging behaviour
The workshop is aimed at staff who occasionally deal with challenging behaviours displayed by clients.
On completion of this workshop learners should have:
Increased confidence in recognising challenging behaviours;
Increased confidence and practical skills in managing challenging behaviours;
An understanding of how one's own behaviour can affect others;
Gained skills to defuse challenging situations.


9.00 am - 1.00 pm on the following dates:
23 May
30 May
6 June
13 June
20 June

Microsoft Computer Skills (Excel)
Cell basics Modifying columns, rows and cells; Formatting cells; Understanding number formats; Working with Multiple work sheets; Find and replace Spell Checking Page; Layout and printing; Intro to formulas; Creating more complex formulas; Relative and Absolute Cell references; Introduction to functions; Basic Tips for working with data; Freezing panes and view options; Sorting data; Filtering data Groups and Subtotals tables; Charts; Conditional formatting; Track changes and Comments; Inspecting and protecting Workbooks; Intro to pivot tables; Pivot tables.


29 May
9.00 am - 1.00 pm

SSSC Awareness Workshop
Why do workers need to be registered?  What is the 'six month rule'?  Workers who hold a non UK qualification; Coming on and off the Register; What happens if a worker has not completed a qualification by the time they are due to renew their registration?  How much does it cost to register?  What happens if a worker registers on a wrong part?  Code of Practice, Disciplinary and fitness to practice.


29 May
2.00 pm - 5.00pm

SSSC Awareness Workshop
Why do workers need to be registered?  What is the 'six month rule'?  Workers who hold a non UK qualification; Coming on and off the Register; What happens if a worker has not completed a qualification by the time they are due to renew their registration?  How much does it cost to register?  What happens if a worker registers on a wrong part?  Code of Practice, Disciplinary and fitness to practice.


30 May
9.30 am - 3.30 pm

Get that job
Course aims:
To discuss feelings about applying for jobs.
To identify your existing levels of confidence in relation to work and personal life.
To acknowledge your strengths and skills.
To explore the job application process and application forms.
To increase confidence in demonstrating your skills and experience on application forms, particularly in relation to the Person Specification.


5 June
9.00 am - 1.00 pm

SSSC Awareness Workshop
Why do workers need to be registered?  What is the 'six month rule'?  Workers who hold a non UK qualification; Coming on and off the Register; What happens if a worker has not completed a qualification by the time they are due to renew their registration?  How much does it cost to register?  What happens if a worker registers on a wrong part?  Code of Practice, Disciplinary and fitness to practice.


7 June
9.30 am - 3.30 pm

Suicide First Aid
Learn how to: recognise invitations for help, reach out and offer support, review the risk of suicide, apply a suicide intervention model, link people with community resources.


If you wish to attend any of these courses please email Marta Chaba at m.chaba@unison.co.uk or text/phone 07950 889765.  Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
In addition, we would like to find out what you would like to learn in 2018.  In order to have the courses of your choice run in your location please click on the following survey SURVEY and complete.  It can be returned by email to m.chaba@unison.co.uk or by post to Freepost RTKC-TYHR-SYAA, UNISON, 53 Shore Street, Inverness, IV1 1NF.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind Regards,
Regional Learning and Development Organiser
53 Shore Street

New text box >>

Added 5 December 2017


UNISON There for You - Winter Fuel Grants 2017-2018
Worried about paying your Winter Fuel Bill?
Get help staying warm this winter
With rising fuel costs and another cold winter many members are worried about how they're going to pay this year's winter fuel bills.
Help is on hand
'There for You' has set up a limited fund to help UNISON members on low income by way of a one-off payment of up to £50.00. 
To apply click on the following application form Application Form.  There is also a Question & Answer document, please click here Q & A Document.


Added 5 December 2017





UNISON Scotland pay campaign Christmas Cards are being signed by members urging the Scottish Government to give all public service employees a decent pay rise.  The cards will be presented to MSPs at an event in Edinburgh on 20 December at the Scottish Parliament. The previous campaign “Scrap the Cap” to have the 1% pay cap scrapped was very successful and the Scottish Government have now scrapped the cap. Health branches held demonstrations at the majority of NHSS Annual Review meetings and lobbied the Ministers who were in attendance. Our branch attended the review at the end of August in Aviemore and we were able to lobby the minister on the day.


We are now asking for a 3.9% pay rise across the NHS PLUS £800 to start to recoup the losses of the last decade as well as introducing a Living Wage for students.


The next campaign will probably be around February next year so look out for that.


Added 20 September 2017


UNISON has determined that it's full steam ahead on SCRAP THE CAP/PAY UP NOW.  The goal is to make it the BIGGEST UNISON Scotland demo since the pensions dispute of November 2011.
Please come to this march and rally, to support UNISON's campaign for your pay.  There will be much to entertain families and to inspire those battling for INFLATION PLUS pay rises for you, our hard-pressed public servants.
This is an all Branch, all sector, all member event.  Of course pay in the public sector impacts on pay in private/independent sector organisations, so even if you don't work in the NHS, this is your fight too!
UNISON in the North will be looking at organising transport on the day, so keep an eye on the usual routes of communication, where we will be letting you know what's happening.  Keep an eye on the UNISON Scotland website too (http://www.unison-scotland.org/).   Let's see if we can have a really good Highland turnout for this major event!

Check back here regularly to find out what's going on at UNISON, in the NHS in Highland, and adult social care .

Added 11 August 2017


Note Change of time for event in Aviemore - now 0800 on 31/8 due to change in ministerial schedule for the day.  All other info below correct.

Added 9 August 2017


NHS Pay Campaign
In line with many other UNISON Branches in Scotland, Highland Healthcare is planning a demonstration at the Board's Annual Review to show the strength of feeling about the imposition of the 1% public sector pay cap - which has been in place for a number of years, and has not yet been scrapped by the government in either Holyrood or Westminster.  This is despite increasing and well-publicised problems around living standards for public sector workers, and the impact on attracting and retaining sufficient staff in the NHS (and, in Highland, in social care, given our integrated model) to ensure that safe services can be provided in the context of increasing demand and demographic changes.
The annual review this year is in Aviemore.  The demonstration will be held on Thursday 31 August at 9.00 am at Macdonald Highland resort.  We are also intending to ensure that a question is put to the Minister/Cabinet Secretary (depending on who is attending for the annual review from the government) at the public meeting in the afternoon.
We would like as many members as possible to attend the demonstration.  If there is sufficient take-up, transport can be organised from Inverness, or from elsewhere.
Therefore if you are planning to attend, please could you advise the UNISON Office (tel 01463 715891, email inverness.office@unison.co.uk), indicating where you are coming from and whether you would like transport, or could offer a lift to a fellow member.
There will also be a national demonstration taking place in October, and we will advise on this as soon as details are available.
Finally, we hope you will have seen and signed a 'Scrap the Cap' postcard - UNISON's campaign to gather signatures from NHS workers and the general public, which will be presented to the Cabinet Secretary at the national demonstration.  If not, please speak to your local rep, or contact the UNISON Office.  We will also take along a good supply of the postcards to our local demonstration in Aviemore.


Added 2 June 2017


Win £50 of vouchers with one email!

To ensure that we can represent you as well as possible, we need to have up to date details for our members. So we are offering a chance to win £50 of vouchers of your choice to all members who send an email stating their name, workplace, employer and home address to inverness.office@unison.co.uk. As sending out letters by post is expensive and uses money we could be using to fight for your T&Cs, please note that you are agreeing for us to use your email address for future communications. The draw will close on 31 July and the winner will be picked on 1 August.

Added 26 May 2017


Let’s win for our country on 8 June



Dear ,

This week has been both difficult and tragic for our country, and especially for the people of Manchester. Public service workers, including many UNISON members, worked tirelessly through the night assisting the injured and comforting those who had lost loved ones. We are proud to have them as part of our union.

The solidarity and compassion shown in Manchester has been incredibly moving, reaffirming what many of us already knew – that those who attacked Manchester attacked a special city.

It was right to have a respectful pause in election campaigning, but now, with less than two weeks until election day, it is right to restart the campaign. If we don't debate the biggest issues facing our communities in the coming days, we will have given succour to those who seek to undermine our open, tolerant and democratic society.

So in the run-up to the election, I want to see our political parties returning to the issues which will define the future of our nation.

We need to talk about the future of our social care system, currently facing chronic underfunding. It should be possible for one of the wealthiest countries on earth to provide dignity for our loved ones and ensure that the people who care for them earn a decent wage. Conservative plans to deliver a “Dementia Tax” ­ a lottery for anyone who’s getting older and is lucky enough to own their own home ­ are not the right answer.

We need to talk about our schools, facing cuts to the funding they receive per pupil thanks to the national funding formula. Now the Tories have U-turned on this, promising more money for schools, but funded by the axing of universal free school meals. Again, that’s the wrong solution. We should never be forced to choose between feeding our kids and providing them with the education they deserve.

We need to talk about our NHS, because this national treasure has struggled for years without the proper funding needed. Senseless cuts have weakened our health service and staff are continually asked to do more with less. The Tories promise more money for the NHS: but they have not delivered in the past ­ so why should we trust them now?

In the weeks ahead, let us make these the issues that define the general election – because they are the issues that will define the future of our country.

When UNISON members win, public services win and the whole country wins.

So let’s win for our country on 8 June.

Best wishes,

Dave Prentis
UNISON general secretary




Added 25 April 2017


Who lives and who dies at work is not an accident of chance – it is due to social class and economic inequality,

Compounded by discrimination based on sex, gender, race/ethnic origin, sexuality, faith and disability 

On Friday 28 April, International Workers Memorial Day, millions of trade unionists, families and campaigners will gather all over the world at thousands of events to remember all the people killed at or by work, in incidents or from illnesses.  Globally this comes to millions of people killed by work every year (many more injured and made ill): every 15 seconds someone is killed by a work incident or illness. Almost all of their deaths were completely preventable.  In Great Britain around 1,200 are killed in work-related incidents and 50,000 die from work-related illnesses.  Around 300 workers take their own lives due to the stress of low pay, insecurity, excessive workloads and long hours.

Face it. Unfair workplaces are a pain. Only Unions can make it better. We want good health and safety for all workers whoever they are.


Click on link below for more info


Janette McQuiston

Branch Secretary

UNISON Highland Healthcare Branch

Tel no 01463 715 891


International Workers Memorial Day

Added 20/4/17


Nursing Statutory Minimum Staffing levels


Please find details and booking details for consultation events on Scottish Government plans to deliver safe and efficient staffing levels.


UNISON's Nursing Sector Committee will also devote time to developing the UNISON response.


If you are interested in attending one of these events, please contact the Branch



9th May – Grand Central Hotel - Glasgow

Glasgow https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/safe-and-effective-staffing-in-health-and-social-care-glasgow-tickets-33427854613



15th May – CoSLA Haymarket Terrace - Edinburgh

Edinburgh https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/safe-and-effective-staffing-in-health-and-social-care-edinburgh-tickets-33430805439



5th June –Inverness – venue to be confirmed (timings possibly 1.00 – 3.00pm)




27th June – The Curl - Aberdeen

Aberdeen - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/safe-and-effective-staffing-in-health-and-social-care-aberdeen-tickets-33431057192






Added 20/4/17


NEC elections: 5 reasons to vote

UNISON members are electing the union’s national executive council – here are some key reasons why you should use your vote and return the ballot paper

map showing NEC constituencies and numbers of seats

Are you a UNISON member? You can vote for our national executive council between 3 April  and 28 April.

Lost your ballot paper? Call 0800 0 857 857

But why should you? Here are five reasons to use your vote.

1. The NEC makes decisions that affect your life and the lives of many ordinary working people.

It is the senior decision-making body of UNISON and direct the union’s policy and campaign priorities. As your elected representatives, its members use their judgement to take important decisions on, for example, pay negotiations and industrial action.

Whose judgement do you trust? Who do you think will best represent you? Make sure you find out and vote.

2. It champions public services.

Last year, the NEC supported campaigns that got the public behind public services. Considering the government’s austerity agenda, this work is vital.

The NHS, education, local councils and other services need UNISON to stand up for them. The NEC makes sure our public service agenda is prioritised.

3. The NEC ensures UNISON continues to be a member-led organisation.

Unions have accountable, democratic structures that give them the mandate to campaign for working people. Participation is the bedrock of any union.

The late Tony Benn once asked five questions of power.

  • What power have you got?
  • Where did you get it from?
  • In whose interests do you exercise it?
  • To whom are you accountable?
  • How can we get rid of you?

We’d be able to answer Tony.

  • The NEC has power to make UNISON policy (between conferences).
  • Members give it its power.
  • Its members work in the interest of UNISON members.
  • They are accountable to members.
  • And they can be voted out every two years.

So make sure you use your vote in 2017 and participate in our proud, democratic tradition.

4. The NEC’s structure ensures minority voices are heard.

There are seats reserved for Black members, disabled members and young members.

This ensures UNISON is an inclusive organisation, where all voices are encouraged and represented.

5. UNISON rules mean the make-up of the NEC fairly represents the wider union.

Since women make up two thirds of our membership, two-thirds of the seats on the NEC are reserved for women and 13 seats are reserved for low-paid women.

Considering women are not proportionally represented in Parliament or on company boards, we should be proud that the NEC is leading the way.

The NEC election is your chance to make sure your voice is heard. Ir makes important decisions, which affect the lives of many low paid workers and our public services.

All members are eligible to elect candidates to represent their region and their service group.

It’s a postal vote and ballot papers have been sent to you. Voting is open from 3 April to 28 April.

A helpline at 0800 0 857 857 is open from 11 April to 25 April for any queries or in case you don’t receive your ballot paper.

Find out more at unison.org.uk/elections

Added 27/2/17


Don't forget it's AGM season coming up!  See our Facebook page under "Events" for details.  You should also have received a letter, plus will be getting an email reminder if you are signed up to receive UNISON emails.





iMatter staff engagement in NHS Highland -

Hi, briefly, the stage we’re at with the various parts of the organisation is as follows:

• N&W – electronic questionnaire live up to end of today; paper questionnaire closes in 2 weeks...
• S&M – questionnaire closed. 58% response rate. Action plans due by 3 March.
• Raigmore – going again as a single cohort, in September. Lots of promotional/training work to be done before then.
• Corporate – going again in June
• A&B – going for first time (all staff incl social care) in June. Again, lots to do before that.

We are being challenged as a staffside to do whatever we can to promote/support responses, completion of action plans, and implementation of actions.

Anything you can think of, please let us know!


Added 11/1/17


Letter published by the Inverness Courier on Friday 6 January  re NHS and agency staff:



I was interested in the view of one of your correspondents that "If the NHS banned all staff from taking agency work this would resolve this serious issue overnight".

One of the things that I have learned from nearly 30 years working within the NHS is that what may appear to be a simple straightforward solution is rarely the answer to a problem (see also Ragmore car parking...).

We'll leave aside the fact that we are not living in Stalin's Russia or Castro's Cuba, where the idea of "banning" people from seeking work which they are trained for, wherever they choose to seek it, might seem reasonable.

NHS Highland could, of course, choose to not use any locum or agency staff. Far from "resolving this issue overnight" though, what would happen overnight is a whole range of undesirable effects. For example, operations would be cancelled, wards might be closed, and patients would have to travel long distances to receive the treatment/procedures that they needed, from other NHS (or indeed private) providers. None of these would be cheap, or in any way popular with patients and communities.

The NHS does not use locum and agency staff lightly - they are often the most expensive option, and therefore the last resort. However, in many specialised services demand exceeds supply for such staff. Also NHS Highland has particular challenges in attracting staff to work in our more remote/rural communities (and incidentally, seeking to place additional restrictions on staff is not likely to be a way to attract more new people to our area).

In Highland, as elsewhere, the workforce is ageing, and at the same time there are increasing demands on services, due for example to the increase in the population of older people, and also increasing demands/expectations from patients and communities. The nature of work is changing, and staff and indeed communities no longer accept ways of running services which may have worked in the past. There are also very significant financial challenges, and all kinds of uncertainty around the effects of Brexit.

So what can be done to make services sustainable going forward? Well, it's complicated...

One of the things we need to do, as a country, is train more new staff. This in itself is not easy. It takes 3 years to train a new qualified nurse. And of course others in more specialist roles take much longer. It's also worth pointing out that the government is currently considering removing the (small) bursary paid to student nurses. Now do you think, if that happens, this will encourage more people (perhaps as a mature student) to train for 3 years to become a nurse?

We need to redesign services, so we make best use of staff skills, talents and qualifications which staff (and potential staff) have. We need to fully involve staff (and communities) in these changes. It's likely that this will not be straightforward or (sometimes) popular (for a recent example see Caithness maternity services). We need to accept that we can no longer do things in the way that we always have.

We need to develop new roles (for example, Physicians Assistants and Advanced Nurse Practitioners). We need to recruit, develop and support staff to enable them to take on these new roles.

We need to recruit more young people, perhaps in appropriate entry-level jobs in the NHS, through means such as Modern Apprenticeships. Again though, it takes time (and indeed resources) to do this.

We need to change the way that communities can be more self-sustaining, and look at other models of support outwith more conventional NHS services, such as first responders and increased use of technology in telehealth and telecare.

Finally we need to "sell" NHS Highland as a place to work, where new staff are welcomed into workplaces and communities, have opportunities to bring, or raise, their families, and are supported to develop their NHS careers.

So, let's all try and start 2017 on a positive note, recognising that this is a complex issue, which we can all play our part in, to redevelop our NHS as a service fit for the challenges and opportunities now facing us.


Adam Palmer
UNISON Highland Healthcare Branch Communications Officer


Uniforms, work clothing and tools


You may be able to claim tax relief on the cost of:

  • repairing or replacing small tools you need to do your job (for example, scissors or an electric drill)
  • cleaning, repairing or replacing specialist clothing (for example, a uniform or safety boots)

You can’t claim relief on the initial cost of buying small tools or clothing for work.

If you need to buy other equipment to use in your job, you can claim capital allowances instead.

What you can claim

You can either claim:

  • for what you’ve spent - you’ll need to keep receipts
  • a ‘flat rate deduction’

Flat rate deductions are set amounts that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has agreed are typically spent each year by employees in different occupations.

If your occupation isn’t listed, you may still be able to claim a standard annual amount of £60 in tax relief.

You don’t need to keep records of what you’ve paid for if you claim a flat rate deduction.

Get help staying warm this winter

With rising fuel costs and another cold winter looming, many members are worried about how they’re going to pay this year’s winter fuel bills.

Help is at hand

There for You, UNISON’s own charity has set up a limited fund to help UNISON members on low income by way of a one-off payment of £50 per household.

To apply download the forms (link below) or simply contact your UNISON branch office.

Completed applications need to be sent to There for You, UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London, NW1 2AY, to be received by Friday 17 February at the latest.



Forthcoming UNISON led courses:


Mental Health Awareness 1 day workshop (The Open University)  

What the day covers

  • Mental health issues

  • Perception of mental health

  • Experiencing mental health problems

  • Type of mental health problems

Anxiety, Depression, Suicide and self harm, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Personality disorders, Eating disorders

  • Legal considerations

  • What can individuals do

  • Medication and treatment

  • Useful organisations and signposting



28 November - Inverness

6 March – Fort William

7 March – Lochgilphead

22 May –  Portree



Emergency First Aid  at Work (1 day course - accredited)


20 January  - Inverness

24 January - Oban

25 January – Dunoon

26 January – Inverness


Managing Challenging Behaviours at Work 1 day workshop


1 February - Inverness


Alcohol Brief Interventions (NHS Highland) – half day workshop

By the end of the course participants will be able to:

  • Open a conversation about alcohol with an individual

  • Motivate the individual to change their drinking behaviour and explore strategies to reduce consumption and alcohol-related harm

  • Close the conversation and know how to signpost or refer individuals on to other services, if appropriate.


8 February – Inverness


Digital skills half day workshops - anywhere in the Highlands and Islands (subject to sufficient demand):


o using a tablet;

o searching for information;

o instant messaging, emails, video calls; Skype

o buying and selling;

o booking your travel;

o managing your bank account;

o setting up and managing a Universal Credit account;

o creating a text document such as a CV;

o creating and sharing a photo album.


If you wish to attend any of the above courses please contact:

Regional Learning and Development Organiser
53 Shore Street


Direct dial: 01463 723968
Mobile: 07950889765

World AIDS Day 2016


On December 1st 2016 the world will come together to show support for world AIDS day.

We have come far since the aids Crisis emerged, since then with medical advances HIV doesn’t mean your life has to be put on hold. In fact, it shouldn’t stand in your way of having a long healthy life.

More people than ever are living with HIV in the UK, like many other services these are been cut and the stigma surrounding HIV is still deeply entrenched, and according to Terrance Higgins Trust we are seeing the first generation growing old with HIV, so we can’t stop now.

As LGBT officer, I ask staff/members if they wish, to wear a Red Ribbon on Thursday 1st December to show support. The easiest way to get your hands on a red ribbon is to Text RIBBON to 70707 to donate £1 to Terrence Higgins Trust and get your free red ribbon. Once you've text, they will contact you by phone and SMS to arrange delivery of your ribbon and tell you a bit more about their work, this is through the Terrence Higgins trust, and not UNISON, they are also holding fundraising events at Dundee and Glasgow, for further details visit tht.org.uk

Also between the 19th and 25th November its National HIV testing week, you can get tested for free throughout the UK or even get a free testing kit posted to complete at Home, this information is available on the Terrence Higgins Trust website or visiting www.startswithme.org.uk/

Terrence Higgins Trust this year’s theme for world AIDS Day is it’s not over yet(#itsnotover)

UNISON Highland Healthcare Branch is proud to show support for World AIDS Day

Dereck Rutter

LGBT Officer/Rep


NHS struggling to keep up with rising demand and cost pressures

A combination of increasing costs, staffing pressures and unprecedented savings targets mean that Scotland's NHS boards are finding it difficult to balance demand for hospital care with investing in community-based services to meet future need.

Audit Scotland's annual review of the financial health and performance of the NHS in Scotland recognises there have been improvements over time, such as increasing patient safety and reducing waiting times for hospital treatment.

The total health budget in 2015/16 was £12.2 billion. Although this increased by 2.7 per cent in real terms from the previous year, NHS spending is not keeping pace with increasing demand, rising costs and the needs of a growing and ageing population. This strengthens the case for changing the way services are delivered.

NHS boards struggled to achieve financial balance in 2015/16, and many used short-term measures to break even. Overall, NHS Scotland failed to meet seven out of eight key performance targets, though one of these was missed by a very small margin.

The report highlights a number of other significant challenges for the NHS, including:

 Increasing spending on drugs;

 The need for NHS boards to make unprecedented levels of savings in 2016/17, and a risk that some will not achieve financial balance;

 An ageing NHS workforce and difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff in some areas;

 Increasing spending by boards on temporary staff;

 A lack of workforce planning for new models of care to deliver more community-based services.

While the Scottish Government has published several strategies for reducing the use of hospitals and supporting more people in the community, most spending is still on hospital and other institutional-based care.

Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland, said: "Major challenges lie ahead for the NHS in Scotland. There are growing pressures on health boards which are struggling to juggle service delivery and progressing major reform whilst also managing considerable financial challenges.

"The Scottish Government has had a policy to shift the balance of care for over a decade but despite multiple strategies for reform, NHS funding has not changed course. Before that shift can occur, there needs to be a clear and detailed plan for change, setting out what the future of the NHS looks like, what it will cost to deliver and the workforce numbers and skills needed to make it a reality."

Audit Scotland has made several recommendations in today's report to support the Scottish Government and NHS boards implementing improvements.

For further information contact Kirsty Gibbins on 0131 625 1658 or kgibbins@audit-scotland.gov.uk

Band 1 review latest (28/10/16):


So far, 131 people have signed up to a new band 2 job description and higher pay!


keep up with developments through our Facebook page:





Forthcoming UNISON led courses:


Emergency First Aid  at Work - 1 day / Inverness & Dunoon

Discussing Drugs & Alcohol with young people – half day / Inverness

Alcohol misuse – Awareness seminar – half day / Inverness

Mental Health Awareness – 1 day / Fort William


Digital skills/Anywhere in the Highlands and Islands (subject to sufficient demand).

Half day workshops:

o using a tablet;

o searching for information;

o instant messaging, emails, video calls; Skype

o buying and selling;

o booking your travel;

o managing your bank account;

o setting up and managing a Universal Credit account;

o creating a text document such as a CV;

o creating and sharing a photo album.


If you wish to attend any of the above courses please contact:

Regional Learning and Development Organiser
53 Shore Street
Direct dial: 01463 723968
Mobile: 07950889765

UNISON Scotland Launches new Duty of Care App:



UNISON recognises that nursing staff are, at times, working under extreme situations. Despite securing significant investment in some areas, UNISON continues to share the concerns of our nursing and midwifery members across Scotland who continue to tell us that they are expected to: work through breaks, after hours or in a way that leaves them vulnerable to accusations that they are not providing appropriate care to patients.

In our 2016 survey of nursing and midwifery members:

  • 63% said there was not enough staff on shift to deliver safe, compassionate, dignified care
  • 86% told us care had been left undone
  • 36% said they had worked through their own breaks or after hours to provide essential care

UNISON has developed the Duty of Care app as a direct response to the concerns raised by many UNISON members who are worried they may be putting patient care and/or their own registration at risk. We want you to report the challenges you face, whether it is:

  • Reduced staffing levels
  • Lack of equipment
  • Reduced admin support
  • Reduced training and support
  • Violence in the workplace
  • Just not enough time to spend with patients

UNISON wants to help you raise your concerns and to support you to secure a better workplace environment with higher standards of patient care. By using our app, your concerns will go direct to UNISON and your local Director of Nursing.

Download UNISON Scotland’s FREE Duty of Care app for Android and iPhone


Follow the link below:



Band 1 review


Briefly, there are major updates from the project team 13 September 2016.


So far, there are 6 job descriptions through at Band 2, including a domestic one, a portering one, and a laundry one (in particular at Raigmore).


There are 14 other job descriptions in the immediate pipeline.


Discussions are now taking place with groups of staff (I was at the Laundry this morning) with a view to consulting them about moving them on to the new JDs.  To follow will be individual letters to members of staff, offering them a new JD and a move to band 2.  They will be encouraged to accept, but offered a 1:1 meeting if they have concerns/queries etc.  Some services I think are going to do 1:1 meetings with all, anyway.  There will be a standard “script” for this.


Another issue of the newsletter is shortly to go to staff.


So it’s good news, there is significant progress, and staff will be hearing more very soon.


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