Staff bullying at Royal Free Hospital above national average

The Royal Free Hospital in Pond Street

The Royal Free Hospital in Pond Street - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Nearly 40 per cent of staff at the Royal Free Hospital have reported that bullying has affected them over the past year.

The figure soars above the national average of 24 per cent of staff at hospital trusts across the country reporting a problem with harassment or abuse.

Some 448 members of staff completed the Royal Free survey conducted every year, with 38 per cent saying that bullying was an issue, it was revealed at a board meeting last Thursday.

Last year 24 per cent of staff reported that they had been bullied at the Royal Free Hospital, in Pond Street, Hampstead, with the national average coming in at 16 per cent.

The NHS has extensive information packs for staff explaining what constitutes bullying and how they can report incidents.

The handbook for employees explains that stereotypical bullying often involves “junior doctors being berated by irate senior consultants”.

This month the Royal Free Hospital is launching a new bullying policy which will clearly outline what bullying and harassment is and will keep staff informed of the steps to report any incidents.

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Unison union branch member at the Royal Free, Jim Mansfield, said bullying is an “embarrassment” for senior management at the hospital because it has been an ongoing problem.

He said: “Bullying has been getting worse. It’s a diffcult area - what is bullying and what is getting someone to do their job?

“Also there’s a lot more pressure being put on staff because of cuts and being a foundation trust and some managers can deal with the pressure and some can’t.

“Bullying is not acceptable and senior management, along with the union, are trying to clamp down on it.

“It’s an embarrassment for them because it has been consistently bad, so we’re trying to stamp it out with this new policy.”

He added that some staff are scared to report bullying because they are afraid of upsetting their managers, which means that not all cases are investigated.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Free Hospital said they were “disappointed” to see the results of the 2012 survey.

She said: “We are committed to improving this situation, not least because research shows a clear link between staff experience and patient experience.”

She added: “As a further step towards improving this issue, we will be launching a new bullying and harassment policy this month.

“This will make clear what bullying and harassment is, and make sure that staff know how to act on the issues and get support around solving them.”