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Nurses looking after dying COVID-19 patients were bullied, union claims

Staff said they were shouted at, denied PPE – and faced ‘hell’ if they spoke out
Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham

Staff said they were shouted at, denied PPE and faced hell if they spoke out

Nurses and other staff caring for patients with COVID-19 were allegedly told their life would be made hell if they complained about their working conditions, a union has claimed.

Unison revealed that healthcare professionals at the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham were allegedly threatened with bullying and abuse if they spoke out, and some staff are now understood to be off sick due to stress.

Staff told Unison they were openly shouted at on the ward and denied vital personal protective equipment, which was kept in a locked office.

The union also claimed that managers created a sickness

Staff said they were shouted at, denied PPE – and faced ‘hell’ if they spoke out


Picture: Alamy

Nurses and other staff caring for patients with COVID-19 were allegedly told their life would be made ‘hell’ if they complained about their working conditions, a union has claimed.

Unison revealed that healthcare professionals at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham were allegedly threatened with bullying and abuse if they spoke out, and some staff are now understood to be off sick due to stress.

Staff told Unison they were openly shouted at on the ward and denied vital personal protective equipment, which was kept in a locked office.

The union also claimed that managers created a ‘sickness board’ in the break room, listing individual staff members’ time taken off, in an attempt to shame them into coming to work even if they were unwell.

Union talks of ‘a concerted effort to break’ staff

Unison’s East Midlands regional officer Dave Ratchford said: ‘We’re talking about a very high-performing team who fell foul of a culture that permits bullying and fails to address it.’

Mr Ratchford said nurses were still being asked to work 70 hours a week in some of the 'worst shift patterns' he had ever seen.

He added: 'Newly qualified nurses were being asked to carry out care in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic without access to training or counselling. 

‘The accounts the staff have given us make it seem as though this was a concerted effort to break them – and it is still going on.’

Staff member describes ‘incredibly stressful’ working conditions

One member of staff said: ‘We were caring for people as they died, using our own phones to Facetime their families, bagging their bodies and then dealing with their relatives.

‘It was incredibly stressful.’

Team have had to deal with far more deaths than usual

The staff member added that the hospital’s specialist palliative care team usually deals with around 200 deaths each year; in the past four months alone they have had to manage 185 deaths. 

Unison is raising a collective grievance on behalf of more than 30 employees from Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust who were reassigned to look after patients with COVID-19 at the Queen’s Medical Centre.

NHS trust has launched investigation and offered psychological support

In a statement, the trust’s people director Neil Pease said they were taking the concerns raised seriously.

‘Bullying and harassment are not tolerated in our organisation,’ he said.

‘We have launched an investigation into the concerns raised and have offered psychological and pastoral support to the staff directly involved.’


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