Harrowing effects of bullying allegations revealed

RCN congress hears from staff representative and accused manager
workplace bullying

The impact that being accused of bullying has on nurses was laid bare at RCN congress by those who have endured a long wait for disciplinary hearings.

Alison Upton speaks to RCN congress about workplace bullying. Photo: John Houlihan

RCN UK safety representatives committee south-east member Alison Upton used her speech to the college’s congress in Glasgow this week to highlight the detrimental effect of accusations on managers.

Ms Upton explained how many were simply trying to do their jobs and had never set out deliberately to bully anyone.

However, she added: ‘With bullying it is as much about how things are said as what is said.

‘The emotional, physical and psychological tolls of bullying are clear to see and we should all work together to build a positive workplace culture.

‘No one should feel afraid to go to work.’


Emotional speech

RCN East Midlands Nottingham branch member Carole Devenport was hailed for her bravery in sharing her personal experience.

Choked with emotion she explained she had been a manager and was accused of bullying by a care assistant (CA). The CA went on long-term, stress-related sick leave after Ms Devenport had asked them to cancel a shift they had been booked for because of over-staffing.

After eight weeks Ms Devenport received a disciplinary hearing date and told congress: ‘I cried every day, I went home with chest pains every day, I was tired, I had no self-esteem left.'


Drastic decision

She added: ‘The day before my hearing I bought 160 paracetamol because in my mind if I didn’t go to the hearing, I couldn’t be branded a bully.

‘However, I’m a coward, I wasn’t even brave enough to kill myself, professionally I was demoralised, felt unsupported and very let down.

‘The day after my hearing I made the decision that I could never have the confidence to manage anymore, so I handed in my notice and retired 5 years earlier than I had intended.

‘I will never forgive, never forget 38 years of loyal NHS service.’

Speaking direct to managers she concluded: 'There are two sides to every story. Hear both before you make judgements because they kill your nursing career.’

Further information:

RCN congress debate: Bullying allegations

RCN UK safety representatives committee