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Calls for chief nurses to help tackle 'shameful' NHS bullying stats

  • 34 Comments

“Shameful” statistics that show around 25% of staff in the NHS are bullied must be addressed through a “cultural revolution” of the health service, nursing directors have been told.

Speaking as part of a panel debate at the chief nursing officer for England’s summit on Tuesday, workforce experts also noted that only around two thirds of NHS workers had said their concerns would be acted upon by managers.

They said the data – reported by professionals themselves through the annual NHS staff survey – revealed more needed to be done by nursing and other managers to support staff.

“[We need to] address two things in the [annual NHS] survey which are shameful. The first is that a quarter of staff say they are bullied”

Rob Webster

Particular attention should be paid to marginal groups – such as black and minority ethnic (BME) staff, temporary workers and students – that were more at risk of these issues, said Jocelyn Cornwell, chief executive of charity the Point of Care Foundation.

Ms Cornwell referred to the nationwide whistleblowing investigation helmed by Sir Robert Francis, which earlier this year highlighted these particular groups as being more worried about speaking out when they have concerns.

“I think that is a worry because we know there are large numbers of BME staff in key patient-facing roles, so it’s incredibly important they feel confident about speaking up and feel listened to in a good way when they do so,” she said.

Ms Cornwell said the health service had become “habituated” to reports of bullying in the annual staff survey, and claimed the “broader” problem was high stress levels.

“We know that nursing is very high stress work, high demand and associated with a sense you don’t have control”

Jocelyn Cornwell

“In the NHS, 28% of people report work related stress. In the general population it is closer to 18%. We know that nursing is very high stress work, high demand and associated in many environments with a sense you don’t have control,” she added.

She told senior nurses that, as leaders, they had an important role in creating work environments that tackled such problems by supporting staff to feel empowered.

Rob Webster

Rob Webster

Rob Webster

Speaking as part of the same panel debate, Rob Wester, chief executive of NHS Confederation – which represents NHS organisations – said: “[We need to] address two things in the [annual NHS] survey, which are shameful.

“The first is that a quarter of staff say they are bullied and that only two thirds of staff say they are confident somebody will act upon their concerns if they are raised,” he said.

Mr Webster suggested a “cultural revolution” was needed, because the NHS “wasted the assets of staff and of patients every single day”.

  • 34 Comments

Readers' comments (34)

  • michael stone

    ANONYMOUS12 DECEMBER, 2015 11:43 AM

    You have perfectly described a part of the issue - not the 'how management reacts' aspect, but something which is also very relevant.

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  • moving on up and on........good, more nurses leaving in droves. that is until managers stop,look,listen and learn, there are alternatives to poor work cultures . We do have choices.

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  • Bullying is rife in the nursing profession at every level and it will take a miracle to stamp it out.

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  • I am leaving the NHS and my current band 6 post due to being bullied for 4 years by HR managers and senior staff up to the C/Exec. We have a new C/Exec just started but the previous one was vile and the HR team followed her culture. Im leaving with depression and anxiety from a job I love.
    I have had a terrible time just functioning and dragging myself into work. Im on desk duties now and im retiring. This isnt the job I trained for. The corporate culture leaves alot ot be desired as it promotes bullies and those who are rubbish at their job.

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