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Staff report improvements at hospital but problems still with bullying and abuse

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: NNUH

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: NNUH

NNUH

More than a quarter of staff at the region’s flagship hospital have been bullied, harassed or abused by colleagues, a new report has revealed.

In April, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) commissioned respected health charity the King’s Fund to review the culture at the trust.

It came after results of the national NHS staff survey were released in March, which showed much improvement for NNUH in areas including staff satisfaction with their level of responsibility, resourcing and support, and recognition and value.

But two worrying finds were how 28pc of staff said they had been bullied, harassed, or abused by colleagues in the previous 12 months, and staff felt they were not free to speak up about concerns.

Speaking at the trust’s board of directors meeting on Friday, workforce director Jeremy Over said: “[The staff survey] reminds us we’ve done well. We have halved the number of key findings in the worst categories but we still have a lot to do.”

He said because the trust was concerned about some areas, the King’s Fund came in and spoke to 271 staff, and the report was being released in the interests of transparency.

He added: “But these are positive ideas, they are helpful and constructive.”

Bullying and a reluctance to speak up were issues highlighted by the Care Quality Commission, in their report which deemed the hospital inadequate last month.

And the King’s Fund found there were stark variations between departments - in one no staff said they had experienced bullying, while in another 50pc had.

Staff told the charity they would like to see a zero tolerance approach, and training given on what is and is not bullying.

And they also wanted it to be safe and easy to report bullying, but concerns were also raised about reporting safety issues.

The charity found: “The trust has put in place a number of structures to enable staff to report concerns. However, our review indicates that staff experience these as complicated and difficult to access.”

Staff feedback included not feeling safe when reporting incidents, managers not being approachable and the belief that concerns are not taken seriously or dealt with confidentially.

Some 34pc of staff in the King’s Fund workshops believed concerns raised would be addressed.

But the report also found “positive developments in NNUH’s culture over the past two years”.

It said directors felt chief executive Mark Davies’ style was “overwhelmingly positive” and he was described as “supportive, authentic, positive, inclusive and open”.

Yesterday he said he wanted to work on the visibility of the senior leadership, and would be holding MP-style surgeries for staff to raise concerns with him privately.

He said: “Coming back to staff engagement, this is an important plank of the future here.”

And the hospital planned to introduce a full-time Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, who staff can go to with concerns and to whistleblow.

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