National Digital Platform Chief Technology Officer hits out at ‘bullies’ in NHS and public sector

Alistair Hann, CTO of NES Digital Service

The man tasked with building a new national digital platform for health and care in Scotland has hit out at “bullies” within the NHS and wider public sector.

Alistair Hann, former chief technology officer at Skyscanner, has said NHS staff deserve better leaders as he described a culture which allows for people making ‘cheap snipes, rather than treating colleagues with dignity and respect’.

Hann, who went to work for the NES Digital Service last year, a project which aims to deliver a new National Digital Platform for health and care, vented his frustration on Twitter and claimed that lessons from the Sturrock inquiry into bullying at NHS Highland have not been learned.

Dr Hann wrote: “I am very tired of the bullies in the NHS. People making cheap snipes, rather than treating colleagues with dignity and respect. Lots of theatre, rhetoric, and diatribes. Not a lot of facts.

“The vast majority of colleagues are lovely and work incredibly hard in adverse circumstances to make things better. They are kind and collaborative. They deserve better leaders.

“This isn’t just the NHS – I see it with other public sector leaders too. The ‘banging fists on tables’ behaviour gets what it wants, and it is rewarded. Lessons from Sturrock haven’t been learnt.”

Dr Hann then posted a link to the Civility Saves Lives website, which aims to raise awareness of the ‘power of civility’ in medicine.

Dr Hann did not reference the NES Digital Service directly in his post, but the sheer scale and ambition of the project – as well as the demand from clinicians within the NHS to see results – has caused concern in recent months. Geoff Huggins, Director of NES Digital Service, spoke at the Digital Health & Care conference in Glasgow in November, where he addressed some of the tensions around the delivery timescales for the project.

Huggins, a former Director of Health & Social Care Integration within Scottish Government, set out by trying to manage expectations in terms of the delivery timescales for the new platform, which he said in the last six or seven months had gone from having been widely accepted as a long term project, perhaps taking 10 to 15 years to have any impact, to something that people wanted to see delivered ‘now’.