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Nottingham University Hospitals Trust has launched an investigation following serious allegations of bullying within a palliative care team during the peak of the covid crisis.

The trust found out about the accusations from Unison, which has submitted a grievance on behalf of over 30 staff members.

Unison said staff were subjected to “horrendous bullying harassment, intimidation and victimisation” and gave examples of staff sickness absence being displayed on notice boards for all to see and PPE being denied.

In response, the trust said it was “really disappointed” to hear of the accusations and stressed how bullying and harassment are not tolerated at NUH.

Dave Ratchford, Unison East Midlands regional officer, said the reports at NUH should act as a “wake up call” for everyone involved in the NHS and also suggested it was likely to see a situation like this in the middle of the pandemic replicated elsewhere, adding that conditions allowing bullying to thrive are found across the NHS.

Cobra uncoils

The Cobra committee’s period as controller of the government’s response to the pandemic is over, Matt Hancock has said. Its job has been superseded by new Cabinet committees, whose remit will include a ‘battle plan’ for winter.

Mr Hancock said “effective cross-government decision making” on coronavirus was now taking place through two permanent Cabinet subcommittees, named “covid operational” and “covid strategy”, with the prime minister chairing the latter.

Mr Hancock said the secretariat for these committees is provided by the Cabinet office and not by the “civil contingencies secretariat”, which was set up in 2011 to help the government prepare and plan for emergencies.

It is not clear why the change has been made or what a change in secretariat means for how the government manages the response to coronavirus.

The change is despite the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies’ constitution requiring it to be instigated and operated by Cobra.