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Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust

Survey sparks apology from Sussex trust's chief exec

A mental health trust boss has called on staff to suggest changes after the damning results of a survey showed more than two-thirds of its workers thought there was a culture of bullying, fear and blame.

Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust chief executive Lisa Rodrigues has made an unreserved apology after the results of the staff survey emerged, the Hastings and St Leonards Observer has reported.

Some 68% of those taking part in a staff survey said the trust’s working culture was “signified by traits of blame, fear and bullying”.

Meanwhile, nearly half (44%) of those working for the trust, which runs the Woodlands mental health unit in St Leonards, East Sussex, criticised its management.

Just under a third (32%) said the trust’s board and senior management were out of touch with them, with 53% saying senior managers should spend more time on the front line.

Ms Rodrigues was reported as saying: “They said we are not as good as we should be at explaining why changes need to happen, or taking their ideas and feelings into account during times of change or when services are under increased levels of demand.

“I want to apologise unreservedly to our staff who feel like this.”

She said the survey had also revealed some “extremely positive findings” such as a strong teamwork, hard work and a commitment among staff to provide “safe, compassionate, evidence-based services for vulnerable people”.

However, she added: “But, and it is a big but, some of those who responded were critical of our culture and leadership style, particularly when things go wrong.

“This leaves people feeling stressed and anxious at times when they most need help and support from senior colleagues.”

The survey also found that only 21% of staff thought they had a good relationship with their manager with 26% feeling they were treated like children or patronised by management.

Nearly a third (32%) complained there was a lack of trust in them by management while 47% felt they were not consulted or allowed to have a voice at work.

Just over a fifth (21%) felt it was either unsafe to ask questions at work or thought their ideas were not heeded or blocked while 35% called for the trust’s blame culture to be stopped.

Readers' comments (11)

  • Same old story. They are sorry when when found out. Nothing has changed.

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  • I agree. Bullying is endemic in the NHS and we only hear about when it is essentiually too late. No wonder there is STILL nurse burnout-its a hard enough job anyway without an unsupportive and bullying management

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  • "A mental health trust boss has called on staff to suggest changes after the damning results of a survey showed more than two-thirds of its workers thought there was a culture of bullying, fear and blame".

    My suggestion is that Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust chief executive Lisa Rodrigues resigns!

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  • michael stone

    The bosses should first say sorry, and second take steps to remove this bullying culture. With more emphasis on the second bit !!!

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  • tinkerbell

    at least an acknowledgement is a step in the right direction. Let's see if it leads to positive change.

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  • I agree. It takes guts to say sorry so publicly. Havn't seen it form the C E of Alderhey !

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  • I should think that this chief exec is a safer bet now the bullying culture is being addressed, better the devil you know. I don't support her for allowing it to happen in the first place. I hope all staff in all Trust staff surveys take that opportunity to be truthful and honest and stop this NHS bullying culture. The surveys should look at each dept not just the Trust as a whole, otherwise pockets of bullying go undetected

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  • An organisations "culture" is determined its "leader"

    Rodrigues should do the right thing and resign.

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  • Let us now hope that the excellent teams within Sussex Partnership can feel nurtured and supported in their demanding professional roles now that this CE has announced resigned (retired!). I only hope that after the years and I repeat years of changes in senior management from one very poor CE to another and consequent board of director changes, that have been detremental to staff and patients; that the days of ignoring professionals opinions will be a thing of the past. This will only be truly achieved with a change of the Director of Nursing whose 'leadership' has and remains a particular problem to the professionals who may or may not realise whose agenda is followed- it certainly is not theirs or their patients.

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  • @Anonymous | 18-Feb-2014 1:26 pm

    she's tried resigning a couple of times over the last few years but the chairperson apparently couldn't do without her.

    @Anonymous | 18-Feb-2014 8:47 pm

    the chair has, finally, accepted her retirement, so we'll soon have a new devil to know. i'm not sure of the timing of this acceptance, i think it came after she'd taken time off work for depression.

    i believe she has plans for lots of cycling and writing a book.

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