Page last updated at 09:21 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010

'One in eight' health department staff report bullying

By Justin Parkinson
Political reporter, BBC News

Department of Health building
The Department of Health said any bullying was unacceptable

Almost one in eight Department of Health staff have experienced bullying or harassment at work, a civil service survey suggests.

The survey also reports that nearly one in 10 workers say they have experienced discrimination.

The survey of more than 2,000 civil servants was carried out last year, with staff asked questions about the previous 12 months.

A department spokesman said there was "no place" for abuse at work.

Of the 2,057 staff who responded to a question on whether they had personally experienced discrimination at work during the past year, 9% said they had. Some 84% said they had not and 7% preferred not to say.

'Dignity and respect'

Asked the same question about bullying and harassment, 2,056 people replied. Some 12% said they had experienced such problems, while 83% had not and 6% would not say.

The Civil Service-wide People Survey was carried out for the first time from October to November last year.

The Department of Health's own previous staff survey results are not directly comparable, as employees were asked to confirm that they had "not" personally experienced bullying or harassment over the previous three months.

Over the period from June 2008 to June 2009, the proportion agreeing to this statement increased from 74% to 84%.

The spokesman said: "All Department of Health staff have the right to be treated with consideration, fairness, dignity and respect. There is absolutely no place in the workplace for abuse of any sort.

"We launched our Bullying and Harassment policy in March 2008 to emphasise that any form of bullying or harassment is unacceptable and procedures for how employees can raise a complaint.

"We will continue to monitor the situation through regular staff surveys. Any cases of bullying or harassment will be fully investigated and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken."

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