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’.