22 July 2016

Bullying risks personal health and patient safety according to #NurChat

Bullying or discrimination in the workplace is not only hurtful and unpleasant for the recipient, it can have severe and wide-ranging consequences. Not only will the health and wellbeing of the individual be affected, patient care can suffer and commitment to their employer will most likely fall.

Sadly, a quarter of NHS staff surveyed in England reported harassment from colleagues and 1 in 10 had experienced discrimination, however black and minority ethnic staff seem to be in the majority of those experiencing this unpleasant behaviour. Recent data shows that 75% of acute trusts have a higher percentage of BME staff reporting bullying, harassment or abuse.

The situation hasn’t been helped by the UK voting to leave the EU. It’s estimated that anywhere between 55,000 and 110,000 of the 1.2 million NHS staff in England have citizenship of another EU country, some of whom have reported racial abuse in the wake of the vote. Feelings shared include being a ‘second class citizen’ and ‘50% of the population in the UK doesn’t want me here’.

In a recent #NurChat twitter chat, participants reported colleagues feeling anxious and ‘no longer as confident of welcome’ in this country while another NurChatter reported that staff were encouraging their colleagues with messages of positivity. It seems that the uncertainty caused by this political upheaval has given way to the worst and the best behaviours from colleagues and the public.

Subtle undermining comments, deliberate exclusion from team tasks, limitations of career opportunities and being excluded from decision-making processes can all constitute bullying as well as the more overt verbal abuse. Policies designed to inform employees and protect them from this type of behaviour are likely to be updated once a year at best, so it begs the question of whether or not they are fit for purpose in this current climate.

You can read the full details of the #NurChat on equality and diversity in healthcare and nursing staff here. #NurChat returns on 2nd August at 8pm.