Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

NHS nurse bullying 'drastically needs examination', warns Healthcare Commission


Healthcare Commission chair Sir Ian Kennedy has called for renewed focus on nurse leadership and issued a warning about the ‘corrosive’ nature of bullying in the NHS

He also said the leadership of nurses, ‘drastically needs some examination’ in light of stories about patients not being taken to the toilet or fed at appropriate times.

A “strong strand” running through the Bristol Inquiry into children’s heart surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, which Sir Ian led, was that its chief nurse had been ‘bullying everybody’, he said.

Sir Ian’s warning about the ‘corrosive’ nature of bullying among NHS staff and managers comes in the week the watchdog is being absorbed into the Care Quality Commission.

Speaking to the Health Service Journal, he said: ‘One thing that worries me more than anything else in the NHS is bullying.

‘We’re talking about something that is permeating the delivery of care in the NHS.’

The problem was caused by the NHS’s ‘hierarchical’ culture and occurred across all staff groups, he said. His comments follow last week’s staff survey, in which 8 per cent of respondents said they had experienced bullying, harassment or abuse from a manager or team leader and 12 per cent said they had from colleagues.

Sir Ian said bullying was ‘one of the biggest untalked about problems in the delivery of good care to patients’.


Readers' comments (19)

  • I am a student suspended I have had lies told about me by both nurses and mentors with colaboration. I have had unison rep call me in aroom go on about mymothers death and this unison rep also asked about my childrens ages to get me to back down, he had a social services man waiting outside the room thankfully my children are adults, but what would they have done if my children were under the age of 14. I am putting together my statements and there lies together and going to take them where they can be seen. When allegations are made about a student who do they go to. Well the only people are the people who put you there in the first place there is no other independent governing body. I have had the most horrific things done and said about me. If any other student out there is being bullied by either mentor or nurse or both please put what has happened to you. hopefully David Cameron will help

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I am a Senior band 7 in an acute NHS trust and am being virtually bullied out of my job by senior management.They stop at nothing lies ,bullying and deception.I have been a loyal and totally committed member of staff and I run a very good ward with totally dedicated staff.I feel totally demoralised and very sad that anyone would allow this to continue but the higher I escalate my concerns the worse the bullying becomes.What was I guilty? of standing up for patients rights and dignity due to inadequate staffing levels.Someone needs to stop this behaviour within the NHS and remember why we entered this profession in the first place.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Bullying is contrary to the philosophy and values of the nursing profession and counterproductive to interdisciplinary team working and effective patient care.

    Would further training for nurses in leadship positions and others who have personal issues which lead them to bullying help?

    All aspects of bullying and how and why it occurs could be examined in a non-threatening environment with experts such as psychologists/psychotherapists, counsellors, peer support, etc. where they could also learn alternative coping and improved communciation strategies and how to create a more positive, congenial and productive working environment which is far more rewarding to them and to all concerned as a direct or indirect result of their behaviour.

    Those who bully usually do for a variety of reasons such as personal problems, growing up or living in that type of culture where if they have known nothing other may percieve as 'normal', poor self esteem, lack of confidence, overwork, overwhelming stress, a wounded helper syndrome, delusions of grandeur, depression, feelings of being stuck in a rut, a variety of complexes, projection of their difficulties onto others and usually the most vulnerable, personal dislike for others, personal differences such as education, race, appearance, etc., fears of threat by other colleagues such as junior colleagues and students who have had a training which is considered more up to date and technically advanced, narcissism and other personality disorders. These individuals are usually deeply sad and unfortunate. They may be very lonely and mask deep desires for recognition whilst being unable to communicate their personal needs to others for fear of losing face. In fact the motives for this type of behaviour may be endless.

    It seems that it is necessary and just as important to examine and treat the roots of the problem as it is to pick up the pieces afterwards when severe and irreversible damage may have been done.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I am currently a final year student who's on my final placement. My two mentors are bullying me. They pick on me for everything such as the way I give a bed bath. They want to fail me cause I dont have any basic nursing skills. This is the first time this kind of issue has arisen in my three years. i feel like am being bullied what should i do?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I too am a third year nursing student, I feel I have been unfairly treated my a sign off mentor who has never worked with me and has refused to sign me off, it breaks my heart as I have worked very hard to get to my last placement. I have never failed a placement before, I was allocated a senior nurse to work with, who signed me off, another staff nurse signed my management snapshot, a few other nurses signed off some skills, On the last day with no warning she decided not to sign me off, wow. there was one incident where I put two tablets instead of one, but was able to correct myself with the nurse I worked with, she is now using this as an excuse. I feel she has been waiting for me to make mistakes so she can fail me, on many occassions I have said hello to her and she has ignored me, I have asked to work with her a 4 diffrent occassions and she has never been fourthcoming, am I incompetent? i believe not, not trying to blow my own horn, I do work hard and give 100%, Whilst on this placement I worked in other departments and with other staff, who all praised me for my efforts and thought I will make a good nurse. I feel so helpless and sad that 1 individual has the power to be so unfair and unjust, Who does one turn to? she is a ward sister with years of experience, its my word against hers,

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Tiger Girl

    Well, this needs a solution, but I think anyone who has read the posts on NT during the last few years, would be aware that bullying within the NHS is a problem.

    There are too may stories, for them all to be inventions, I think.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Tiger Girl

    'too many stories' - previous post.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I am second year, and i do believe the treatment of all medical students, especially nurses, is disgusting.. The oversees staff have given the most abuse since i arrived! Outrageous, it really is awful! And they wont sign you off either, its almost like emotional and educational blackmail. You will do the jobs i dont want too if i have paper work to do, you will do everything i ask, jobs a HCA is paid to do or a nurse, otherwise, i will fail you! Other friends have a good mentor, and a good placement, mine however, has to be the worst!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I too am being bullied by my sign off mentor who has recruited others to do the same to me when they are not around. I too have passed all other placements and these messages make me feel that I am not alone, thank you for sharing.

    I have had previous careers but have NEVER witnessed nor been on the receiving end of such horrific bullying on all levels, I didn't think this could be possible in this 'caring & compassionate' business. I have never witnessed so many tears, 3 nurses/doctors cried on the ward just last week! I comfort others going through the same, I witness others being bullied and hear the disgusting things gangs of nurses say about other nurses and students. Most are are too scared to speak up to anyone else, but I have whistle-blowed.....It's quite astonishing to watch them all close ranks, tell bare faced lies, even to your face, manipulate the truth, coax others to tell bare faced lies, publicly humiliate and admonish their chosen victims it's barbaric!!!!

    Every day is the same, not a day goes past I don't see or am on the receiving end of these tyrants brandishing their little piece of power over other members of staff and students, you can almost see the pleasure they gain from it, it really sickens me how these people get away with it when you only have to mention the word bully and other members of staff can name them with no prompts!!!!

    If everyone knows about them they why are they not dealt with severely and allowed to get away with it, they might as well give out awards to them every year, as by doing nothing and openly allowing the tyrants to continue is endorsing this gross behaviour and saying that it is acceptable, which is NOT!!!

    Oh Lord help the whistle-blowers as this just makes things 50 times worse!!!

    I was once proud of the NHS and what it stood for, but now I am embarrassed and disgusted to be a tiny part of it, but not for long due to only this reason.

    I can count the nice nurses I have met on 2 hands which is very sad and disturbing.

    But the bigger they are the harder they will fall.... eventually

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 1020results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.