Three years ago we looked at the results from the annual NHS staff survey to see how the sector was performing in the areas of bullying, harassment and speaking up. Our conclusions then were that the survey showed improvements but there were still staff that felt they couldn’t report or that the senior management wouldn’t act upon what was reported.

The last time we reported upon this the latest figures were for 2014. The latest figures (which can be found here) are for 2017 so there are three more years of data to assess. Once again we are only looking at performance in the areas of bullying, harassment and speaking up.

What is immediately clear from looking at the charts below is that not much has changed in the intervening years.

Bullying & Harassment

Staff-on-staff bullying and harassment remains stubbornly static at just under 25% of staff still reporting some form of abuse in the last 12 months. More encouragingly is that the number of staff going on to report these incidents is up. However, 52% of staff still don’t go on to report these issues.

Of course, what the numbers don’t tell us is why staff aren’t going on and reporting. This could be because staff don’t feel safe doing so, or that they fear for their jobs if they do report or maybe they just don’t feel that there is an outlet for doing so.

Violence

Something that we didn’t look at in our last review of the figures was staff-on-staff violence. Again this has remained static over the last three years with around 2% of staff reporting a violent incident in the last year. While 2% seems like a low number with the NHS headcount reported as being 1,202,806 in November 2017 2% is still up to 24,056 members of staff who experienced violence.

Again there is a worrying proportion of these people who are not reporting the incidents, although the percentage reporting is higher than for bullying and harassment.

Other Findings

One encouraging sign is that the number of staff reporting that they have good communications with senior management continues to improve, although not by huge percentages. The ability and confidence of staff to communicate with senior management is key to enabling reporting of the sorts of issues highlighted above. So any improvement here is welcome.

Conclusions

It is easy to look at some of the percentages above and think that they are small but when you consider the number of staff that actually affects we are talking about huge numbers. For example 292,642 people responded that they had experienced bullying and harassment in the last 12 months but 152,730 of those didn’t go on to report the issue. What we don’t know is WHY these people didn’t report and this needs to be the focus for the NHS.

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