5 December 2019
NHS Highland Makes Big Payout in UNISON LGBT Case
NHS Highland has made a five figure payout to UNISON member Vicky Walker following UNISON supporting Vicky in taking a case complaining about discrimination on the grounds of her sexual orientation. The case was handled by Thompsons Solicitors for UNISON. Following judicial mediation NHS Highland agreed to make the five figure payment, issue an apology and write to Vicky’s former colleagues warning of the consequence should there be a failure to adhere to the NHS’s stated expectations and values with regards to colleagues and former colleagues.
Speaking today Simon Macfarlane, UNISON Regional Organiser said “It is good that UNISON was able to support Vicky Walker during what was a horrible experience for her as an employee of NHS Highland and then when this continued after she left their employment. It is regrettable we had to pursue litigation in this regard which was stressful for Vicky; meant justice was delayed and ultimately has cost the NHS considerable sums of money. Time and time again senior management refused to step in on this case and instead stood behind unacceptable practice. This is a pattern we see all too often in NHS Highland and have yet to see evidence of changed behaviours post the Sturrock report.”
Simon continued, “This case shows the importance of being in a union and having access to support and legal representation. UNISON is committed to fighting for LGBT equality in the workplace and society. Vicky is to be commended for taking a stand and showing such perseverance. We hope this settlement will at last provide some closure and allow her to move on with her life.”
Vicky Walker today said “This marks the end of an incredibly difficult two years during which I suffered relentless harassment and victimisation while working for and since leaving NHS Highland. The decision to pursue litigation was not an easy one however I felt I had to try to ensure my situation was not repeated for any other employee. I am encouraged that NHS Highland wish to learn from my experience and have acknowledged the systemic failures by both HR and management. I hope they can now take the necessary actions to ensure the safety of LGBT employees and their allies within their organisation.”
Vicky continued “I would like to thank UNISON for their unwavering support and commitment to LGBT rights; I would not have been able to pursue justice without them. Lastly I would like to thank my family and friends but especially my former NHS colleagues and those members of the Mull community who have stood resolutely on the side of fairness and equality in spite of some challenging and hostile circumstances. It has been a hard journey but I am content that justice has finally been delivered.”
Elspeth Drysdale of Thompsons Solicitors today said “Cases of discrimination against LGBT employees are on the increase. It takes enormous courage to challenge these behaviours through the courts. We’re delighted that, with the support of UNISON, Ms Walker got the justice she deserves. We can only hope that her bravery in speaking out will change the culture at NHS Highland and prevent the same thing happening to others.”
19 November 2019
UNISON MEDIA RELEASE
Dawn Macdonald, UNISON Convenor for Argyll & Bute in NHS Highland today said “UNISON is today formally launching a petition to save Knapdale Ward and dementia services in Argyll & Bute. Knapdale Ward is a Dementia Assessment Ward at the Mid Argyll Community Hospital & Integrated Care Centre in Lochgilphead. It has been closed to new admissions for months. UNISON is launching this petition to prevent the full closure of Knapdale Ward and to call for its reopening to new admissions. There are currently ongoing proposals regarding the future of our dementia services within Argyll & Bute, UNISON is standing up for these crucial services and believes given Argyll & Bute’s aging population we need to see an expansion not retraction of dementia services. We believe there are ways ward and community services can be enhanced to provide a better service to patients and their families. Reopening the ward to new admissions must be the starting point for this.”
Dawn continued “We are only today widely publicising the petition. Yet already with very limited publicity the petition has gathered over 1,400 signatures. This is fantastic and shows the huge support there is for Knapdale ward and well resourced fit for purpose dementia services in Argyll & Bute. NHS Highland and Argyll & Bute Health & Social Care Partnership must listen to this level of concern and move swiftly to reopen Knapdale to new admissions.”
The petition is at
Dawn MacDonald can be contacted on 07584 503799
Simon Macfarlane, UNISON Regional Organiser 07703 194132
17 January 2019
UNISON CALLS ON NHS HIGHLAND TO DITCH PATIENT CHARGES FOR TV/INTERNET AT RAIGMORE
The contract for TV/internet services for patients at Raigmore is coming to an end in June 2019. UNISON is calling on NHS Highland to ditch these unfair and excessive charges, and find a way to provide the service either free or at the very least at a much reduced cost.
Janette McQuiston, UNISON Branch Secretary said: “This contract coming to an end provides a major opportunity to do away with the excessive charges – as high as £9.90 a day – for TV and internet services.
Patients may well be unable to afford these charges, and we say that the service should be provided free of charge to patients, or at the very least, much cheaper.
We are also asking NHS Highland to explore providing free Wi-Fi access for patients and visitors to the hospital.
Our members are telling us that these charges often provoke comment and difficulties for patients.
We know that the income for this does not go to NHS Highland, but we are calling for an end to this private profit-making at the expense of often vulnerable and elderly NHS patients.”
Janette explained “We have written to the Board Chair David Alston on this, and expect that we can work together to find a solution to this issue. You can also show your support by signing our petition, which is available at:
This morning UNISON along with other health unions met with the Scottish Government to discuss the allegations of bullying within NHS Highland. It was a positive meeting and agreement was reached that an independent review be established.
UNISON also welcomes the fact that a need for additional independent HR support for NHSH was agreed, which will provide additional capacity to investigate new cases of alleged bullying which have been identified.
We were also clear at the meeting that UNISON and other unions need to be involved in terms of our ability to present information to the independent review.
We are also pleased at the fact that it was agreed that the review would proceed "at pace but without haste", in the words of Shirley Rogers from the Scottish Government, and expected to start before Christmas. UNISON looks forward to being involved in the review going forward.
10 July 2018
NHS 70TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION ACROSS THE GENERATIONS IN ROSS-SHIRE
About 50 people enjoyed a family fun-day run by UNISON to celebrate 70 years of the NHS. The party took place at County Community Hospital in Invergordon on Saturday afternoon – despite a certain football match taking place at the same time!
UNISON’s Vice Chair, Anne Campbell, who organised the event said “It was a great way to mark the NHS 70th birthday. It was a sunny day full of fun, and the free ice cream went down particularly well.”
(For more pics see "Gallery")
UNISON Scotland press release on NHS pay deal
4 July 2018
Help UNISON celebrate the NHS’s 70th birthday
Our NHS is 70 years old this month and to celebrate UNISON Highland Healthcare Branch have organised a family fun session in the grounds of County Community Hospital Invergordon. This is free for the children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews of UNISON members.
Branch Secretary, Janette McQuiston, said “We think it’s really important to celebrate the 70th birthday of this vital public service, which has been a part of all our lives for a long time now, but is very much still alive and kicking! We wanted to celebrate and mark this important anniversary in a fun way. There are UNISON NHS 70th birthday cakes being shared with staff in a number of different wards and hospitals in the NHS Highland area, but we also wanted a focussed event for members and their families. Good weather is guaranteed!”
The fun starts at 2.00 pm until 4.00 pm on Saturday 7 July and we have a great afternoon planned, which will include:
Soft drinks for adults
Tickets are available from Anne.firstname.lastname@example.org or 07818 002374.
Keep your ticket to swap for a free ice cream from the Alness ice cream van.
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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Anne Campbell, UNISON Highland Healthcare Vice Chair. Telephone 07818 002374
UNISON Highland Healthcare, 53 Shore Street, Inverness, IV1 1NF