Hospital Dr News

One in five NHS doctors were victims of bullying or harassment last year

Bullying and harassment are still common in the NHS and staff say their personal and working lives are seriously affected by it.

That’s the conclusion of a BMA survey, that finds one in five NHS doctors were victims of bullying or harassment last year.

The problem leads to doctors losing confidence, and harms their careers and personal lives, leading them to take time off sick, the report concludes.

The study shows that it’s not just an issue about individual relationships, it’s often a reflection of   pressures in the system, poor working environments, top-down ‘command and control’ leadership, and a culture that accepts such behaviour as the norm.

Its survey of 7,887 doctors of all grades across the UK found that 39% believe that bullying, harassment or undermining behaviour occurs in their main place of work and is a problem.

Of those, 10% said it was “often” a problem while 29% it occurred “sometimes”.

A fifth said they had experienced such behaviour during the past year, but only 33% said they or a colleague had reported incidents to their employer.

The report found:

  • 39% of doctors said they believed there was a problem with bullying, undermining or harassment in their main place of work
  • 65% felt pressure of work was the main reason for bullying taking place
  • 58% felt it was difficult to challenge as behaviour comes from the top.

Dr Anthea Mowat, BMA representative body chair, said: “Bullying in medicine can bring to mind images of a junior doctor being shouted at by a senior, or a surgeon angrily throwing instruments across the room. But the experiences we have heard through the BMA’s bullying and harassment project show it can affect all kinds of doctor and medical student. We know that other staff in the NHS are affected too – one in four according to the NHS staff surveys.

“As well as damaging staff, bullying also impacts on patients and the consequences for patient care and safety are serious. In workplaces where bullying is common, communication and teamwork suffer, and staff are afraid to raise legitimate concerns about patient care or safety.”

Some of the recommended solutions include:

  • Alleviating the system pressures and taking steps to support the development of positive working relationships
  • Displaying compassionate leadership from the very top and developing it throughout the NHS system
  • Embedding human factors understanding in medical selection, education, training and work practices
  • Providing more training and support on giving and receiving effective feedback
Bookmark and Share

Post a Comment

Enter this security code

Submit Comment for Moderation