Healthcare Commission review shows progress in tackling bullying and harassment

Posted on 12th January, 2006

The Healthcare Commission today publishes the findings of its independent review into allegations of bullying and harassment at Devon Partnership NHS Trust. The review was set up following the Commission’s routine inspection of the Trust in 2004, during which concerns were raised about the issue.  The findings are based on a survey that was commissioned in April 2005 to find out more about the experiences of staff. The review concludes that almost a third of the staff (32%) that responded to the survey felt that they had experienced some sort of bullying or harassment since 2003.  Encouragingly, however, the Commission reports that there is a clear trend towards improvement within the Trust.  The review indicates that the percentage of staff reporting any kind of bullying and harassment at the time the survey was conducted, in April/May 2005, had significantly reduced to ten per cent.   Some staff used the survey as an opportunity to report that they felt the organisation was a good place to work. Many more said that they had seen some improvements in the organisation over the previous 12 months and were expecting more in the forthcoming year. Commenting on the report, Chief Executive, Iain Tulley, said:  “We accept fully the Healthcare Commission’s findings and acknowledge the seriousness of them.  It is clear that action needs to be taken at many levels within the organisation and we have already started to address many of the key issues.  We have more than 2,500 staff - most of whom do a difficult job in stressful and frequently challenging environments - and it is simply unacceptable that such a high proportion of them have felt bullied or harassed in some way over recent years. “We are striving to develop a more open and supportive organisation where people can have confidence about speaking up if they feel they have been treated inappropriately and one where showing respect for fellow workers is a fundamental part of the way we all behave. I believe that we have made good progress towards this goal in the last year or so and it is reassuring that the Commission’s findings support this view.  However, it is important that we are not complacent and we will continue to monitor the situation very closely indeed.”  The Commission makes a total of 29 recommendations, 15 of which are highlighted as requiring immediate attention. The Trust has already addressed many of the key recommendations and has drawn-up a detailed action plan to ensure that progress is made in implementing all of them. Anthony Farnsworth, Director of Delivery at South West Peninsula Strategic Health Authority, added:  “There have clearly been problems relating to harassment and bullying within the Trust in recent years and the Healthcare Commission’s review into the matter was very timely.  However, prompt steps have been taken to address the issue and the organisation now appears to be heading in the right direction.  We are very pleased to note the significant progress that has been made and we will be closely monitoring the implementation of the Trust’s action plan to ensure that this progress continues.” Unison representative for the Trust, Jim Clawson, said: “The Healthcare Commission’s findings are an understandable cause for concern and must be addressed comprehensively, especially in those parts of the organisation where the problem appears to be most acute.  However, the Trade Unions have been encouraged by the improved working relationship in recent months and we look forward to working in partnership with management to eradicate this unacceptable and damaging behaviour.” The Healthcare Commission’s key recommendations include the following: · The draft Acceptable Behaviour Policy, once agreed and ratified, must be shared with staff, supported by appropriate training and include an updated list of designated mediators
· Human Resources policies need to be reviewed to take account of current legislation and good practice
· The responsibilities of managers and staff when reporting incidents of bullying and harassment and the process for handling informal and formal complaints should be made clear
· Greater access should be provided to all employment policies
· The Trust should analyse and learn from the data relating to grievances, sickness and absence and monitor reasons for staff turnover. A copy of the Healthcare Commission’s full report can be found by clicking on the links below or at the Healthcare Commission’s website:

Full Healthcare Commission Report 

Healthcare Commission's Media Release 
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