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‘We feel bullied’: ED staff said to be battle-weary amid patient safety claims

Hospital told to strengthen emergency department leadership and review its staffing levels
Forth Valley Hospital, where ED staff are said to have felt bullied

Claims by nurses’ unions’ that staff are afraid to speak up prompted governance review at Forth Valley Royal Hospital – now the unions say they will work with NHS Forth Valley to ensure dignity at work for nurses and other staff

Unions are working with an NHS employer to ensure nursing and other staff are treated with dignity after claims of bullying prompted an investigation.

NHS Forth Valley commissioned an independent governance review of the emergency department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital near Falkirk in central Scotland, after Unison and the RCN raised concerns with NHS Forth Valley chief executive Cathie Cowan in November last year. She subsequently commissioned the review.

Hospital’s emergency department staff are battle-weary

Claims by nurses’ unions’ that staff are afraid to speak up prompted governance review at Forth Valley Royal Hospital – now the unions say they will work with NHS Forth Valley to ensure dignity at work for nurses and other staff

Forth Valley Hospital, where emergency department staff are said to have felt bullied
NHS Forth Valley Royal Hospital Picture: Alamy

Unions are working with an NHS employer to ensure nursing and other staff are treated with dignity after claims of bullying prompted an investigation.

NHS Forth Valley commissioned an independent governance review of the emergency department at Forth Valley Royal Hospital near Falkirk in central Scotland, after Unison and the RCN raised concerns with NHS Forth Valley chief executive Cathie Cowan in November last year. She subsequently commissioned the review.

Hospital’s emergency department staff are battle-weary

Details leaked from the review’s confidential report and published by the Daily Record newspaper revealed nurses and doctors told the review team they were ‘battle-weary’, with many senior staff having resigned. In addition, junior staff were said to be ill-trained and unsupervised on shifts.

On patient care, the report is reported to say: ‘Examples were given of reluctance to report incidents or near misses due to a culture of poor follow-up and lack of corrective action. Staff felt it was futile and [that speaking up] may be held against them.’

As part of the review, staff completed a mental health survey and spoke in confidence to the team.

Unison Forth Valley health branch secretary Karren Morrison said: ‘Last year, concerns were being raised by our members who worked in, or who had previously worked in the ED. Staff talked to us about feeling bullied and intimidated, being frightened to speak up, concerns about the delivery of safe patient care, high staff turnover and other issues.’

She added: ‘Unison are committed to working with the health board to ensure nursing staff are treated with dignity and are provided with a safe working environment.’

Review’s recommendations

NHS Forth Valley said the review made a number of recommendations, including that there should be a strengthening of leadership, and that department staffing be reviewed. A committee has been set up to oversee implementation of the recommendations.

Ms Cowan thanked staff who participated in the review: ‘It is important any concerns raised by staff or their representatives are taken seriously and fully explored in a fair and open way.’


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