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Hospital staff 'bullied' in to poor care, research shows


A number of hospital staff claim they have been put under excessive pressure or bullied to behave in ways they believe are detrimental to patient care.

Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows that one in four doctors and surgeons and a third of nurses have been pressured or bullied into doing something they consider to go against the best interests of patients.

Of the 1,000 healthcare workers in England, Wales and Scotland surveyed, two out of five were worried that their organisation could be at the centre of the next patient care scandal.

In addition, fewer than three out of five health workers would be confident to raise concerns about the quality of patient care to senior management, while just over half stated better staff engagement and consultation would help improve patient care.

Commenting on the report, CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese said NHS boards and leaders should ensure they put more emphasis on their people management and employee data.

He claims that monitoring, analysing and acting on people management information and feedback from staff can provide early warning indicators for potential culture, capability and capacity problems linked to poor standards of care.

Patient care can be fatally undermined if such management information isn’t obtained, causing further problems down the line.

“The findings reinforce the need for a much greater focus on the staff experience, good people management and staff engagement, at both a system and local level, to improve the patient experience,” said Kevin Croft, president of the Healthcare People Management Association.

“We know there is a clear correlation between a positive staff experience and better health outcomes for patients.”


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Readers' comments (4)

  • michael stone

    I think that anyone who regularly peruses the posts on this website, will already understand that 'bullying of staff' is a serious problem within some parts of the NHS. The phrase that fairly regularly crops up is 'a culture of fear'.

    It needs sorting out - transparency is quite a lot of the solution, and raising systemic concerns as a group, instead of as individual staff members, is another part of the solution. And accepting that sometimes things will need improving, without anyone in particular necessarily being culpable for the existing problem, is another part of the solution.

    I'm not all that optimistic, that this will be sorted out - in fact, with increasing cost pressures, it might actually get worse.

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  • not to mention pressuring or bullying staff by senior managers or employers out of a job and in some cases putting an end to their career!

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  • George Kuchanny

    "bullied into doing something they consider to go against the best interests of patients."

    I have actually witnessed this culture in action. The fine guidelines we see on the NMC website about RN's being responsible for their own practice seem to go out of the window for many pressured staff as soon as they work in a hospital environment. Similarly for doctors the article says but I have not personally witnessed a doctor being bullied.

    Been saying it for years now - this culture must change. Many RN's have now been given Degree status to be able to withstand these pressures but it has done nothing. In fact the old school non degree nurses appear to still stand up for their patients welfare more robustly than new graduate entrants. So what to do? Perhaps part of the degree should be a series of play acts on withstanding the common form of pressure to do the wrong thing...

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  • tinkerbell

    I think it is vitally important that part of any training for student nurses should involve how to withstand bullying and be able to report bad practice. Hopefully this will at least mentally arm them so that it doesn't come as a surprise that they might experience either or both. This should be regularly repeated throughout their training.
    I hope the training already incorporates these issues.

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