Tackling bullying in the NHS

Tackling bullying and harrassment

The 2016 NHS staff survey shows that bullying and harassment has become an extensive problem in the health sector. Twenty five percent of all NHS staff (one in four people) have admitted that they have been bullied in some way, with 29.9 per cent of all NHS staff sharing that they have suffered some psychological stress due to bullying behaviours.

Research led by the University of Leicester analysed survey data showing that 21 per cent of mental health workers had been bullied and eight per cent discriminated against by their managers in the previous year. Of these, 86 per cent had gone sick in the year before the survey for an average of eleven days in total.

Over thirteen per cent of trainee doctors reported being victims of bullying and harassment in their training post according to a report from General Medical Council.

Roger Kline's report, Bullying: the silent epidemic in the NHS, published in 2013, reported that a quarter of staff in the NHS felt they were bullied and the rate of reported bullying has doubled in just four years.  Staff previously surveyed said less than half of cases of bullying, harassment or abuse cases were reported and the proportion of cases being reported is falling, down from 54 per cent in 2004 to 44 per cent now (2013).  Sir Ian Kennedy, former departing chair of the Healthcare Commission (now CQC), said bullying was one of the biggest untalked about problems in the delivery of good care to patients.


What is bullying and harassment? 

ACAS define bullying and harassment as:

Harassment
Harassment is unwanted conduct affecting the dignity of men and women in the workplace. It may be related to age, sex, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or any personal characteristic of the individual, and may be persistent or an isolated incident. The key is that the actions or comments are viewed as demeaning and unacceptable to the recipient.

Bullying
Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient. Bullying or harassment may be by an individual against an individual (perhaps by someone in a position of authority such as a manager or supervisor) or involve groups of people. It may be obvious or it may be insidious. Whatever form it takes, it is unwarranted and unwelcome to the individual.

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Promoting a positive culture to tackling bullying

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