Investigation launched into Scottish ambulance bullying


AN INVESTIGATION has been launched into an alleged campaign of bullying and harassment by Scottish ambulance bosses.

Senior officials at the Scottish Ambulance Service’s (SAS) Headquarters in Edinburgh have been accused by staff of bullying and intimidating them at work.

The claims were revealed in a letter written to a senior NHS executive.

The paramedic was alleged to have visited the shops before taking a patient to hospital
Staff claim they have taken days off of work because of stress-related mental health brought on by the constant harassment.


It has been claimed that David Garbutt, SAS chairman, ordered paramedics to move rapid response vehicles that were parked outside the building so he could drive in with his luxury car.

However, staff refused to move the emergency vehicles and were allegedly taken into an office and reprimanded.

Another manager has been accused of harassing workers after they signed an open letter complaining about the lack of parking spaces for frontline staff.

Some staff claim they had even received abusive and threatening calls on their mobiles about the parking issue.

Staff have also been absent from work because of stress-related mental health conditions said to have been brought on by constant harassment.

They claim that written and verbal complaints about bullying and harassment were all ignored by officials.

The SAS have strongly refuted all allegations and claims made against them.

However, a top investigation has now been launched with the details emerging following a question by Labour MSP Jackie Baillie in Holyrood last week.

Ms Baillie said: “I’m very concerned for any service, particularly the ambulance service, to experience what appears to be an extraordinary level of bullying.

“Senior managers need to put a stop to this.

“I am conscious that this doesn’t just apply to the ambulance service as the NHS comes under more strain. Bullying is becoming a much more widespread problem.”

In reply to Ms Baillie’s question on whether the Scottish Government was investigating the allegations of bullying at the SAS health secretary, Alex Neil, said: “I am aware the allegations are being investigated, but cannot provide further details at this stage.

“I expect all allegations of bullying to be fully investigated in line with the Preventing and Dealing with Bullying and Harassment Policy published in December 2011.”

Jackson Carlaw, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said he was aware of the latest accusations and had asked the Health Secretary, Alex Neil, for an explanation.

He said: “Clearly, such serious allegations have to be investigated thoroughly and with an independent rigour by the SAS.

“If there is a culture of bullying in the service this must be rooted out immediately.

“The Health Secretary must ensure no stone is left unturned to establish the truth.”

Mick Conroy, of the GMB union, a general trade union, said: “Concerns have been raised about very low morale and about certain managers bullying staff.

“All claims of this nature should be fully investigated and anyone found responsible should be disciplined.”

However, this is not the first time ambulance bosses have been accused of intimidation.

In 2008, chief executive Kevin Doran and operations director Grace Kennedy resigned after an investigation into claims of bullying.

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: “All staff in the SAS should be treated with dignity and respect, as set out in the service’s dignity at work policy.

“Any allegations of inappropriate behaviour are treated very seriously and investigated thoroughly.”


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