NHS staff report rise in bullying

Author: Ingrid Torjesen
NHS staff report rise in bullying

Bullying is on the rise in the NHS workplace, with increasing numbers of staff saying they experienced abuse and harassment from a colleague, manager, patient or patient’s relative, the NHS annual staff survey (2019), shows.

Last year 19.1% respondents to the annual survey of staff at NHS trusts and foundation trusts reported that they had been bullied by a colleague, which is an increase of over one percentage point on 2017 when it was 18%. During 2018 13.2% of staff experienced bullying from a manager – a slight rise on 2017 when it was 12.8%.

Patients, their relatives and other members of the public were also the source of a slight increase in bullying directed at NHS staff – with 28.3% of staff reporting having experienced this, up from 28.1% in 2017.

Fewer NHS staff reported experiencing physical violence from patients, relatives or members of the public, with the proportion falling slightly from 15.4% to 14.5% between 2018 and 2017.

The survey, carried out between September and December 2018, received almost half a million responses, and an increased proportion of staff said they would recommend their own organisation as a place to work.

Almost three-quarters of staff (74%) said they felt enthusiastic about their job, a 6% rise on 2014, and more than four out of five (81%) are satisfied with the quality of care they give to patients. More than seven in 10 would recommend their organisation to their family and friends for treatment, a proportion that has increased every year for the past four years.

The number that agreed their organisation had enough staff in their organisation for them to do their job properly was 32% - the highest for five years.

A new question this year asking staff about their future plans found that 4% want to leave the NHS for another healthcare job and 8% are thinking about a career change.

Baroness Dido Harding, chair of NHS Improvement who is leading on the NHS Workforce Implementation Plan, said: “Today’s results underline the need to change and improve the culture of the NHS to make sure every member of staff is supported to develop and thrive.

“A key part of the workforce implementation plan is looking at how we can make the NHS the best place to work for current and future staff and to improve our leadership capabilities at team, organisation and system levels.”

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “It is a testament to the commitment of our teams, and the support of national leaders for improved pay, that we have seen much better results in certain areas compared with 2017, including engagement, satisfaction with pay and jobs, and feeling recognised and valued.

“However, we cannot ignore the fact that staff are increasingly feeling unwelcome pressure for a variety of reasons. Importantly, they are telling employers that there is still more to do to address the issue of discrimination and bullying and to support their well-being.”