According to a recent survey by the Guardian’s Healthcare Professionals Network there is a major issue with bullying amongst employees of UK’s NHS (National Health Service).
This email-based survey was sent out to healthcare professionals and promoted on Twitter and Facebook. The results were shocking: Of the 1,500 health workers who responded, 81 per cent reported having experienced bullying. Almost half confirmed that the bullying was still ongoing.
Many working in the NHS believe that bullying is endemic and that the service is not taking the issue seriously. An NHS manager described the situation:
The organisation becomes defensive and takes the corporate line to protect themselves from a legal challenge and puts it down to your perception. You are then managed out of your job through contrived actions designed to make you leave. All this leaves you broken and with no strength to fight. You go if you can find another job. Otherwise you suffer in silence.
- 81 per cent experienced bullying.
- 44 per cent experiencing ongoing bullying.
- 87 per cent believe bullying is a major issue in the NHS.
- 41 per cent needed counseling or treatment after being bullied.
- The average bullied employee takes 108 days off work.
- Only 17 per cent of those bullied received pastoral support from an organisation.
This survey follows previous warning signs of the bullying issue in the NHS. In 2015 wider research was conducted by the health service. This showed that a quarter of all NHS staff had experienced bullying or harassment in the 12 months prior to the survey.
Various NHS workers recounted their experiences of being bullied at work:
Nurse who left the NHS:
I was constantly ridiculed and told that medical staff had criticised me even though, when questioned, they quite clearly had not. On one occasion I was physically pushed out of the way. This went on for over a year and, along with the treatment of me that followed, had a devastating effect on my psychological health. I was having panic attacks and suicidal thoughts.
The loss of my clinical role has been like a bereavement and not a day goes by when I do not think about the injustice of my case.
Other senior people soon started to target me and I would be admonished for the smallest of errors and for things I hadn’t done. Because of the seniority of these people, other members of staff began to pull away, and I soon became isolated. By this time, I had gone to see my GP who had diagnosed me with severe depression. I have had suicidal thoughts – occasionally I still do.
The whole experience has had a profound effect on me – cheerful confidence has been replaced by paranoia and distrust; I will never be the same person again. To this day I do not know what I did wrong – if anything.
Allied Health Professional:
It’s changed me for life. I’m no longer confident of getting anywhere in my career, the one I have been working at since I was 16; and all because of a group of people who turned my workplace into the film Mean Girls. I’m still on antidepressants, I missed out on promotion, my once exemplary sickness record is tarnished.