• Lewisham and Greenwich Trust brings in external investigators over bullying claims
  • Chief executive Ben Travis said Ashfold Consulting will look at broad themes, saying “what we are currently doing is not working”
  • Summary report will be shared with staff in December

A large hospital trust has ordered an external investigation into bullying and harassment.

Lewisham and Greenwich Trust in south London has hired Ashfold Consulting to carry out a “neutral assessment” of the situation at the £539m-turnover organisation.

In a YouTube message to staff, chief executive Ben Travis said that in his four months at the trust he had been “really struck by the number of people who had raised bullying and harassment with me. It’s really important as a trust that we think about our response to that.

“We need to tackle bullying and harassment differently as what we are currently doing is not working.”

He said the issue had been raised in staff engagement events, exit interviews, cases brought to the attention of directors and during a leadership review.

The Ashfold consultant, Andrew Gent, will interview staff in confidence and the trust stressed the work was not investigating individual cases but “looking for common themes and considering how we can eliminate/more effectively address this issue.”

HR director Janet Lynch, who has been in post at the trust for five years, said in the video that staff could still raise issues and they would be investigated. She said there was also a confidential helpline for staff experiencing bullying.

In the most recent staff survey, 29 per cent of employees at the trust said they had experienced bullying or harassment in the past 12 months, up one percentage point from the previous year.

However, this percentage is not particularly high amongst acute trusts nationally or within London.

The Isle of Wight Trust had the highest rate nationally in the data released in March, with 38 per cent. North Middlesex University Hospital Trust was highest in London with 35 per cent.

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust, Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust and St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust were joint lowest on the measure with 19 per cent.

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital FT, Guy’s and St Thomas’ FT and Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust were the best performing in London with each scoring 25 per cent.