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Bullying and harassment reported in our advice cases: an overview

Insight report resource

It is a sad fact that bullying and harassment are reported to be prevalent issues within the health and social care sector. The 2019 NHS staff survey showed that 19% of staff have experienced bullying or harassment in the last year from colleagues. According to the latest Medical Workforce Race Equality Standard report, the experience of bullying is even more prevalent within the doctor workforce, especially for doctors from ethnic minority backgrounds. Studies suggest bullying and harassment are damaging for both staff wellbeing and the quality of patient care – but there is also excellent work being taken forward to help to understand and address the impact of poor behaviour (see, for example, the work of Civility Saves Lives).

Data from the cases Practitioner Performance Advice were requested to advise on in the financial years from 2015/2016 to 2019/2020 shows that almost 70% of our cases involved problems associated with behaviour. We have looked at the data in more detail to consider the prevalence of bullying and harassment in our cases.

The reported level of bullying and harassment needs to be tackled urgently to help ensure both staff and patients are safe. As outlined in our publication Being fair, moving away from fear and blame is key to building the restorative just learning culture needed to provide safe patient care. Over the next year, we will be looking more closely into cases where behavioural concerns feature, and exploring ways of identifying these and resolving them earlier.

There is no minimum threshold for contacting Practitioner Performance Advice and we encourage healthcare organisations and practitioners to contact us as early as possible when concerns come to light, including bullying or harassment. In addition to advice, we offer a range of services to support organisations and practitioners facing these issues, such as behavioural assessments, professional support and remediation, assisted mediations and team reviews. To find out more, please contact us directly at advice@resolution.nhs.uk.

Our Insights publications share analysis and research which draw on our in-depth experience providing expert, impartial advice and interventions to healthcare organisations.  By sharing these insights, we aim to support the healthcare system to better understand, manage and resolve concerns about doctors, dentists or pharmacists. You can find all past reports here.

If you are interested in hearing more about our research and insights programme, please get in touch with us at Advice.ResearchAndEvaluation@resolution.nhs.uk.

If you’d like to learn more about our work and the services we offer, please visit our dedicated Practitioner Performance Advice webpages. Our Education service offers training courses to provide healthcare organisations with the knowledge and skills to identify and manage performance concerns locally.

Download the bullying and harassment reported in our advice cases: an overview PDF.

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