Thanks to recent HSJ articles about workplace bullying in the NHS, the newsdesk has started to feel more like a Samaritans service. We’ve been deluged with calls and letters, not to mention web responses and forum posts, from readers personally affected by the issue.
It’s not surprising the stories have struck a chord given that 12 per cent of health service workers say they’ve been bullied, harassed or abused at work by colleagues in the past year.
Oddly, a couple of readers have criticised HSJ’s coverage, suggesting the staff survey figures are “exaggerated”. Quite how you exaggerate figures generated by trust employees and published by the NHS itself I’m not sure. Perhaps they’d be less sceptical if they heard the stories of staff suffering panic attacks, insomnia and depression caused by their experiences at work.
Another surprising aspect of the correspondence has been the focus on bullying by managers and chief execs. It’s known that NHS employees are bullied not just by their managers, but by colleagues, those in more junior positions as well as patients. Line managers are more likely to claim they’re being bullied than those without line management responsibility.
Whoever’s to blame, the DH has at least acknowledged the problem and wants to take “bold steps” to improve the NHS workplace. One of these steps is the NHS Constitution, but few people seem to think it’ll have a huge impact. Perhaps staff development is the answer. But are trusts realistically going to invest heavily in training during a recession? Clare Chapman says they will. What do you think?