Action demanded to stamp out bullying in health service
After last year’s spate of bullying allegations by whistleblowers at a number of NHS Trusts, including Lothian, Tayside and Highlands, the British Medical Association (BMA) has called for urgent action to stamp out bullying and harassment in the health service.
In his New Year message, BMA Scotland council chair Lewis Morrison said it was a “scandal” that a culture of bullying and harassment should be allowed to thrive in the NHS, and warned of its repercussions for patient care.
This concern was backed up by a BMA survey of members revealed that almost four in 10 (38 per cent) say that bullying and harassment is an issue in their workplaces. Although there are no comparable studies into bullying in Scotland’s dental sector, the issue is highlighted in a number of NHS-related surveys, which include feedback from NHS dentists.
For example, in the latest NHS England staff survey, which includes feedback from both doctors and dentists for 2017, 24 per cent reported incidents of bullying, harassment and abuse by managers and other staff, while 28 per cent reported this behaviour from patients and relatives.
Of the 30,000 doctors and dentists who responded to the NHS England staff survey in 2016, 24 per cent reported that they experienced some form of bullying or harassment in the preceding year: 13 per cent of doctors and dentists said they had been bullied or harassed by their manager, while 16 per cent said they had been bullied or harassed by another colleague. According to this survey, only a minority of doctors and dentists who experienced bullying or harassment reported it to their employers.
Dr Morrison said BMA Scotland would launch a major initiative in 2019 to understand people’s experience of this unacceptable behaviour, to probe causes, and find solutions and he called on the Scottish Government and NHS managers to work together to make Scotland’s NHS a more positive place to work, including a summit planned for early summer.
He added: “In any workplace, these levels of bullying would be extremely worrying. In the health service, where what we do can make the difference between life and death, it is nothing less than a scandal.
“Ultimately, the level of bullying and harassment we currently see in Scotland’s NHS can only have serious negative repercussions for the care it provides.”
“The level of bullying in Scotland’s NHs can only have serious consequences”
A bullying culture – Page 36