England

Durham University survey reveals NHS bullying claims

  • 1 July 2013
  • From the section England

One in five NHS workers claims to have been bullied by colleagues during the last six months, a survey by Durham University researchers has revealed.

A study published by the journal BMJ Open also found 43% of staff had witnessed bullying in the same period.

Almost 3,000 workers from seven health trusts across the north-east of England responded to a questionnaire compiled by Prof Jan Illing.

The Department of Health said hospitals must act when problems emerge.

Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: "Bullying is always unacceptable and all staff have the right to work free from bullying and harassment.

"Hospitals must look at their own figures and take action if there are any issues in their organisation.

"Openness, transparency and supporting staff to speak up when they have concerns is key to protecting patients and achieving high quality care."

Public humiliation

The survey also showed only between 2.7% and 14% of staff reported bullying to someone in authority, with a disbelief it would help and a fear of being branded a trouble-maker among the reasons for not coming forward.

Prof Illing said previous research had shown that bullying was more common in hierarchical organisations like the NHS.

"Trusts should look at policies and consider what they can do to reduce workplace bullying," she said.

"There needs to be a commitment from the chief executive and once that is in place, things are likely to happen."

Respondents to the survey worked across a range of trusts in the region.

Common complaints included unmanageable workloads and public humiliation.

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