Senior health and social care professionals who join the Care Quality Commission are more likely to be subject to bullying than other employees, an internal review commissioned by the regulator has found.
The report found individuals who have had “very senior roles” before joining the CQC described themselves as being “broken” by the behaviour of their managers, who did not value their previous experience.
The finding comes just as the CQC has launched a campaign to recruit health and social care professionals to take part in inspections. However, these new recruits will work on a sessional rather than a staff basis.
CQC chief executive David Behan commissioned the report in December after 28 per cent of respondents to the organisation’s staff survey described the organisation’s culture to be one of bullying. In comparison, 24 per cent of respondents to the NHS staff survey in 2012 reported bullying, harassment or abuse from their line manager or colleagues.
The report was compiled following interviews with 236 employees – about 10 per cent of whole time equivalents - who responded to internal notices that the review was taking place. The vast majority (92 per cent) reported they had experienced bullying.
The report said a number of those who had been bullied by their line manager “connected it to their desire to make more thorough inspections than their line manager felt was necessary”.
It added: “There is also a correlation between current cases of bullying and new staff coming from senior professional backgrounds in health and social care.
“They describe asking questions and offering opinions with the intention of understanding how things work and seeking to do their very best and being treated as difficult, negative and of little value.”
The researchers concluded bullying behaviours were “entrenched” amongst much of the CQC’s line management, driven by a focus on targets and exacerbated by the upheaval the organisation had been through since it was set up in 2009.
However, the report said it was “important not to see bullying as something that is only caused by some individual ‘bad’ managers”.
“The issues around bullying which are often associated with targets by interviewees are perhaps better understood as a systemic issue that affects everyone in the organisation,” it said.
Respondents reported individuals being ridiculed in team meetings for not working to the same pace as their colleagues, senior managers shouting and swearing at members of the team and being overly critical of inspection reports.
There was a particular lack of support from managers in terms of complaints from providers about compliance reports, the report found.
One respondent commented: “The provider gets a woolly, mealy-mouthed reply that blames the inspector. You are not supported at all.”
Mr Behan said: “From reading the report, it is clear that the vast majority of people who work for CQC are passionate about their jobs and that they are dedicated to providing patients and service users with high-quality and safe care.
“We are committed to building a future organisation to be proud of in every way. We know that we are at the start of this journey and that we need to take the time to build and maintain good relationships, which are based on trust.