Bullying Culture in Worcs NHS Rejected by Independent Adjudicator

An independent report carried out on an NHS trust suggests that it has insufficient policies and procedures in place to deal with bullying.

The investigation carried out by the Good Governance Institute suggests that existing anti-bullying policies at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust (WAHT) are “not fit for purpose”.

During the course of the investigation, more than 700 members of staff across the trust’s three hospitals – in Kidderminster, Worcester and Redditch – were interviewed.

However, it was also found that claims of a so-called “culture of bullying” within the trust were unfounded, and that there was no evidence of “endemic bullying” within the organisation.

The investigation came to light owing to complaints from frontline staff, many of whom stated that morale was exceedingly low.

It was also expressed that employees within the trust had fears about speaking out regarding bullying.

Suggestions that there were problems with a bullying culture within the WAHT were exacerbated by the fact that five A&E consultants within the trust quit simultaneously earlier this year.

Although the more serious accusations regarding the trust were rejected by the Good Governance Institute, the organisation nonetheless highlighted inconsistencies in the way that complaints were dealt with.

Medics were even quoted as stating that the culture in Redditch was one of palpable fear.

According to the final report produced by WAHT, the Dignity at Work policy is not “fit for purpose” either as a document, or with regard to the way it has been administered.

Staff complaints were apparently often dealt with in ways that were inconsistent and confusing.

Speaking on the findings of the investigation,Chris Tidman, interim chief executive at WAHT stated: “We have reflected on the report and approved a comprehensive plan to take immediate action to address the weaknesses identified. This morning we held nine staff sessions, taking the opportunity to talk and listen to our staff.”

This is by no means the first instance of bullying reported within the NHS. Previously, a national survey spanning the entirety of the NHS, published earlier this year, discovered that around 25 per cent of all staff had experience some form of bullying and intimidation.

In February, the entire consultant team running A&E services at the trust’s Alexandra Hospital in Redditch resigned amid claims of a “bullying culture” and a breakdown of the relationship between medical staff and management.

And earlier this year, Lord Prior, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health in the House of Lords, suggested that a ‘toxic’ culture of bullying amongst NHS staff is putting the safety of patients at risk.

Nonetheless, for now the opinion of independent adjudicators is that the suggestion of an endemic bullying culture within the NHS in Worcestershire appears to be wide of the mark.


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