Four out five healthcare professionals subjected to bullying, new research reveals

Four out five healthcare professionals have been subjected to bullying, new research reveals.

Four out five healthcare professionals have been subjected to bullying, new research reveals.

44% of bullying cases were reported to be ongoing. Picture: iStock

A poll of 1,500 nurses, doctors and other UK healthcare workers across acute and community settings found the bullying was still ongoing in 44% of cases.

The survey, conducted by the Guardian, also found that a third of those who said they had been bullied had been pushed out of their jobs, while almost three-quarters reported increased stress and panic attacks.


Other findings from the survey, carried out between August and September this year, include:

  • Of the 1,355 anonymous respondents who said they had experienced or witnessed NHS bullying, the most common forms of abuse were undermining behaviour and persistent criticism.
  • Just over a third said they experienced or witnessed bullying through fear or threats.
  • One in 10 of those who were bullied said they were subjected to violent behaviour and aggression.
  • Asked if a particular incident triggered the bullying, 55% said raising a concern prompted the abuse.
  • Fear of reprisals meant that ​only 54% reported the bullying. 


One nurse, who left the NHS after being bullied by a ward manager, told the Guardian: 'On one occasion I was physically pushed out of the way.

'This went on for over a year and, along with the treatment of me that followed, had a devastating effect on my psychological health. I was having panic attacks and suicidal thoughts.

They added: 'I now work for a private company in a non-clinical setting.

'The loss of my clinical role has been like a bereavement and not a day goes by when I do not think about the injustice of my case.'

Annual staff survey

The poll follows publication of the annual NHS staff survey in England in February, which revealed a quarter of staff said they experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from colleagues in 2015. Some 11% said they had experienced discrimination at work.

Bullying was also the subject of debate at RCN congress in June, where members spoke of the detrimental effect allegations of bullying and harassment can have on nurse managers 'when all they are doing is managing'.

Further information

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.