Medway Hospital at centre of bullying allegations

Mr Gulzar Mufti, a senior urology surgeon, has had a long and distinguished career in medicine. He has spent the past two decades working for the Medway NHS Foundation Trust.

He was medical director there for five years until 2009. He was also a board member and received a silver clinical excellence award for his services to the NHS.

But he leaves his job at Medway Maritime Hospital after suffering what he describes as a campaign of "sustained and persistent bullying".

He's now decided to speak out after an independent report found in Mr Mufti's case that many of the complaints could be construed as bullying.

The report was carried out by Verita, an organisation which conducts or manages investigations or reviews into serious incidents, pinpointing the causes and putting forward practical recommendations to prevent them happening again.

It found that three doctors had acted together in what could be construed as "a group campaign of bullying against Mr Mufti".

It also said a referral letter written by colleagues "to the General Medical Council was malicious" and said it could be construed that colleagues had put "pressure on the trust to remove Mr Mufti in disgrace".

His experience doesn't appear to be an isolated case.

Scale of bullying

Medway NHS Foundation Trust is one of Kent's largest employers with around 3,900 employees.

A recent NHS staff survey revealed that the level of bullying in the organisation was amongst the highest in the country, with one in five staff saying they had been picked on.

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Image caption One in five staff claimed that they had been picked on in a recent NHS staff survey

And 32% were found to be suffering from work related stress.

Mr Mufti, who made his complaint in 2008, blames weak management for the problems.

A new chief executive has now been appointed to run the trust.

Mark Devlin, who took over the post in January 2010, was formerly the head of Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust.

But the NHS survey, which highlighted the scale of bullying in Medway, also revealed Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust was just behind Medway, with 19% of staff reporting they had been bullied.

Plans are now in place for NHS Dartford and Gravesham to merge with Medway NHS Foundation Trust in a bid to reduce management costs.

Given that, Mr Mufti says he felt compelled to raise his concerns. He's worried that bullying amongst staff could put patients at risk.

He's now raised the issue with his local MP - the Conservative member for Rainham and Gillingham, Rehman Chishti.

Mr Chishti says he will write to the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and also raise the concerns with the Care Quality Commission.

'Not appealed'

In a statement the Trust said: "Allegations of bullying are taken extremely seriously at the Trust. That is why a third party report was commissioned by the Trust to independently investigate Mr Gulzar Mufti's concerns.

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Image caption An independent report found three doctors had acted in what could be construed as a "group campaign of bullying"

"This report was non-definitive of the majority of allegations - i.e. actions could be construed as bullying rather than that they were bullying.

"The Trust has concluded the internal grievance process with Mr Mufti, and he has not appealed the outcome of that process.

"However, internal processes for considering if further action is needed have yet to be concluded.

"None of the findings in the report give reason to believe that any aspect of patient care or treatment was compromised."

But Mr Mufti does not believe they took his complaint seriously and failed to deal with it properly.

He said it's had a terrible impact on not just him, but his whole family.

He's since been offered a new job as head of medical services for a hospital in Barbados and is keen to put his experience at Medway behind him.

But he hopes by speaking out he can help bring an end to what he describes as a culture of bullying.