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Readers’ panel: Does a toxic ‘put up and shut up’ culture still pervade the NHS?

After an inquest into the death of mental health nurse Rhian Collins heard that she had been bullied before taking her own life, RCN mental health forum chair Ed Freshwater told Nursing Standard that bullying is not taken seriously enough in the NHS, and that nurses who won’t ‘put up and shut up’ are often branded troublemakers. Nursing Standard readers have their say

After an inquest into the death of mental health nurse Rhian Collins heard that she had been bullied before taking her own life, RCN mental health forum chair Ed Freshwater told Nursing Standard that bullying is not taken seriously enough in the NHS, and that nurses who won’t ‘put up and shut up’ are often branded troublemakers. Nursing Standard readers have their say


Picture: John Behets

Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London

Sadly, yes. It’s a self-sustaining culture, which I am just as guilty of by not reporting my own experiences of being bullied. Making a complaint is stressful, especially when it’s your word against the bully’s and that person is more senior than you. A simple cost-benefit rationale is enough for most people to decide that the cost of making the complaint outweighs the benefits, so a bullying culture pervades the NHS. Despite all NHS trusts having zero tolerance policies, the problem is still endemic.

 

Grant Byrne is a nursing student in Edinburgh
@GGByrne

A toxic bullying culture exists in the NHS, but I would argue that it extends far beyond the health service and that ‘putting up and shutting up’ seems part of the national psyche. The NHS has failed by not creating an environment where those who speak up are properly supported and protected. Fundamentally, this is a failure of management, and until those at the top are held accountable and action taken to properly tackle bullying, it will continue to be a concern.

 

Beverley Ramdeen is a senior nursing lecturer in Hertfordshire 
@BeverleyRamdeen

Despite staff shortages, lack of equipment and the increased use of bank and agency staff, the attitude that nurses should just ‘get on with it’ still exists in the NHS. More needs to be done to ensure staff well-being, and the RCN’s support for the anti-bullying in healthcare campaign set up by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is welcome. But until staff stop ‘putting up and shutting up’, the bullying culture that pervades the NHS will never change.

 

Georgina Clayton is a nursing student in Southampton 
@STNClayton90

Healthcare workers are abused every day, by patients, relatives or colleagues. This is often seen by many as ‘just part of the job’, but the impact of abuse can be devastating. We need to build stronger relationships with each other and demonstrate the compassion we show to our patients, and managers need to act by supporting anti-bullying campaigns and ensuring concerns are taken seriously. We protect our patients but we also need to protect ourselves and each other.


Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only

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