Revealed: Less than 1% of NHS staff in Manchester report bullying – yet one in five are suffering in silence

Exclusive by Danielle Wainwright

Less than 1% of Manchester NHS staff reported bullying or harassment between 2011 and 2013 but as many as 20% of the workforce may be keeping quiet about their abuse, MM can reveal.

An FOI submitted by MM, has shown that only 0.3% of staff within the Manchester Foundation Trust reported abuse between January 2011 and January 2013.

However in a 2012 NHS staff survey across 101,169 employees, 19% admitted to experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from staff with 17% experiencing physical violence.

Shockingly, a quarter of doctors admitted to having experienced bullying from managers, questioning the harassment procedures currently in place and support given by the NHS to their employers to report abuse.

Jennifer Gardner, Programme Lead on Health & Well Being at NHS Employers Organisation, told MM: “Bullying and harassment remains an issue challenging NHS organisations.

“Employers in the NHS should be mindful of the detrimental effect that bulling and harassment can have on employee’s health and wellbeing.

“NHS organisations should have policies and systems in place to support staff who are being bullied including processes for reporting and recording instances of harassment.”

The figures paint a slightly different picture however, with many of the 12,000 staff members across the Manchester Trust fearing reprisal if they report their harassers.

UNISON, one of the UK’s leading workers unions have protested against many of the cuts in the NHS and represent more than a million employees across the country.

Christina McAnea, UNISON head of health, said: “Nobody should have to put up with bullying or harassment at work and employers have a duty of care towards their staff.

“They must make sure that they have proper procedures in place to make sure staff can speak out with confidence and without fear and that their concerns will be acted upon.

“Bullying is often a symptom of people under pressure, and NHS staff are currently under serious pressure. The top down re-organisation of the NHS, the pressure on budgets and on staff means that a more stressed out culture has hit the NHS.”

One of the most famous cases of bullying within the Manchester NHS Trust saw Elliot Browne awarded £1million last year after receiving a barrage of racist abuse from his employers.

Another high profile case was that of Nanette Bowen, 55, of South Wales who was given £150,000 in 2010 after suffering three years of harassment from colleagues.

Mrs Bowen said that she felt relieved with the decision but that ‘money can never make up for my life being ruined’.

“I am still suffering and continue to have counselling to control my panic attacks,” she said.

“The trust failed to support me, but hopefully my case will make other workers more likely to speak out.”

Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, added: “Employers need to encourage staff to speak out about bad behaviour, to make sure that bullies are banned from the workplace.”

Picture courtesy of Sander van der Wel via Flickr, with thanks.

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