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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 October, 2003, 22:59 GMT 23:59 UK
NHS nurses 'bullied by managers'
Ministers have pledged to stamp out bullying
Half of health visitors, school nurses and community nurses working in the NHS have been bullied by their managers, according to a survey.

One in three of the 563 people questioned said the bullying was so bad they had to take time off work.

Constant criticism and humiliation were the most common complaints. Others said they were shouted at or marginalised.

The Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association, which carried out the survey, urged ministers to act.

Few complain

The survey found that very few people who had been bullied complained to senior managers.

Most said they were afraid they would make their own situation worse by complaining.

The human and financial cost of bullying to the NHS is too high for it to be ignored any longer
Karen Reay, CPHVA
Of those who did complain, just one in 10 said they were satisfied with how it had been dealt with.

One in three said they were appalled by how their managers responded.

The survey also revealed that bullying causes many people to take time off work because of illness and stress.

Of those questioned, 34% said they had called in sick as a result of being bullied. Most of these were off work for at least a month.

The CPHVA urged ministers to tackle the problem. It called for anti-bullying ombudsmen to be appointed across the NHS.

They would have the power to investigate complaints, compensate staff and discipline bullies.

"The human and financial cost of bullying to the NHS is too high for it to be ignored any longer," said Karen Reay of the CPHVA.

"At the moment staff aren't sure who to turn to when every existing avenue has been pursued."

The Department of Health expects management to take this problem very seriously
Department of Health spokeswoman
She urged the government to take action.

"If I were a government health minister or a senior NHS manager, I would be very worried about the corrosive effect that bullying has on NHS staff and the knock-on effects in terms of patient/client care, with nurses being off work for considerable lengths of time."

Ministers have pledged to stamp out bullying.

A spokeswoman for Department of Health said NHS managers were required to show they were tackling the problem.

"Bullying and harassment makes work intolerable for many and is unacceptable in whatever form it may take.

"Employers have a duty to ensure that their staff have a safe and healthy place to work.

"The Department of Health expects management to take this problem very seriously.

"That is why we introduced new requirements and targets on harassment.

She said employers had to demonstrate through their annual staff surveys improvements in the confidence of staff in tackling harassment.

The survey results were published ahead of the CPHVA's annual conference in Harrogate, which starts later this week.

The BBC's Sophie Hutchinson
"Amicus says staff often don't complain beause they don't know who to turn to"

'My fellow doctors bullied me'
09 Jun 03  |  Health

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