Reports of bullying made by staff at our NHS hospitals

editorial image

A total of 20 separate reports of bullying were made by hospital staff in a four-month period, figures have revealed.

Workers at the Mid Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust, which covers Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals, approached a ‘Freedom to Speak up Guardian’ with issues between April and August this year.

The Guardian is an independent person employed by the trust who investigates concerns raised around working practices, hospital facilities, staff behaviour and bullying.

Presenting a report to the trust board, Kirsty McMullan, who has been employed as the Guardian since 2016, said managers needed more help to promote a “culture” where staff feel free to talk through issues.

She said: “We need to be out there to encourage more people to speak up.

“As part of my role I think we need to start considering how we deliver training for managers, to ensure that they are able to respond to concerns appropriately.”

Among the complaints recorded was one of a “culture of bullying impacting on safe care delivery” in the spinal injuries wards at Pinderfields. Another detailed an allegation of someone being “threatened” by a colleague after they raised concerns about their work.

Trust chief executive Martin Barkley revealed that a number of senior staff had been dismissed from the organisation since the start of 2016 because of bullying.

He said: “I can think of at least three managers who don’t work here anymore because of their management style.

“Bullying is a very personal thing, and it’s how the person on the receiving end feels about it.

“The way they were managing people was unacceptable and they were not acting in accordance with our beliefs and values.

“That number (three) is just sitting here thinking about it. There may be more (who’ve left the trust).

“But certainly action has been taken.”

Internal feedback from those who approached Ms McMullan with concerns, indicated the scheme is making a difference.

95 per cent said that their experience of reporting issues had been “very helpful”, while 100 per cent agreed their concerns had been taken seriously.

One said: “I felt my concerns were heard, taken seriously and steps were taken to try and improve the situation for my colleagues.

“In a massive organisation like an NHS trust, it is really important for there to be a designated person or people employees can go to with concerns, who they know will have the time and energy to address them.”

A total of 90 complaints, including issues other than bullying, were formally raised with the Guardian between April and August.

Among these was a concern about “inadequate cyber security” at the trust, a lack of bike storage facilities at Pinderfields and delays in securing car parking permits.