Action call over South East Coast Ambulance 'bullying'

South East Coast Ambulance Image copyright SECAMB
Image caption A newspaper report said there was "an endemic culture of bullying"

Bullying claims at South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) have led the GMB union to call on the government to intervene.

The Daily Telegraph described a "culture of bullying", with workers subjected to abuse and harassment.

The GMB described the trust managers as "unaccountable" and called on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to step in.

Secamb said the news report covered "historic allegations", most of which had been dealt with.

The news report, based on a dossier of documents, claims two 999 call handlers attempted suicide and a third considered crashing her car to escape abuse.

Several workers claimed they were under such pressure they could not concentrate on emergency calls at the operations centre in Coxheath, Kent.

'Shocking scale'

GMB Southern region secretary Paul Maloney said he welcomed the newspaper's investigation but called for it to be followed up with a "clear-out" of the alleged culprits.

Regional organiser Gary Palmer said: "Workplace bullying is bad enough at any time, but the scale and intensity of the bullying endured by staff at Coxheath is shocking."

A spokesman for Secamb said: "The article in The Telegraph covers a range of historic allegations, most of which have been investigated and dealt with.

"Others are unsubstantiated, with no evidence to support them.

"We take the issue of bullying and harassment very seriously and have been working hard to address this area of concern."

He said the issue had been highlighted by the Care Quality Commission and work included "improving internal avenues for serious concerns to be raised" and structured support for staff.

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