“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”
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”
“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.
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”.