In the previous post we took a look at how NHS staff felt about communication with senior management in their organisations. This time we focus on communication after an incident of bullying and/or harassment. This covers another of the important NHS Staff Pledges.  Again we look at overall figures and there may be marked differences between trusts.

Encourage and support all staff in raising concerns at the earliest reasonable opportunity about safety, malpractice or wrongdoing at work, responding to and, where necessary, investigating the concerns raised and acting consistently with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

The last time you experienced bullying or abuse did you or a colleague report it?

Worryingly, over the 11 years that this question has been on the NHS survey, the number of respondents that have answered that yes they did report the incident has steadily fallen and now is below 50%. Of course the survey is just a simple snapshot and doesn’t allow for two way dialogues to find out what people feel that they cannot report.

The last time you experienced bullying or abuse did you or a colleague report it?

The last time you experienced physical violence did you or a colleague report it?

The number of people who say that where they experienced physical violence they reported it is at a higher level than 10 years ago, but there are still over 30% of the respondents that felt they couldn’t or didn’t report for whatever reason (and the number has actually reversed in the last 3 years). It would be informative to go back to this group and find out exactly why they didn’t.

The last time you experienced physical violence did you or a colleague report it?

My Trust encourages us to report errors, near misses or incidents

Well over 80% of respondents felt that their trusts did encourage them to report incidents that occurred and the number who agreed has been steadily increasing over the last ten years. But what happens when things are reported?

My Trust encourages us to report errors, near misses or incidents

When errors, near misses or incidents are reported, my trust takes action to ensure that they do not happen again

When things are reported the majority (just over 60%) believe that trusts do take action to ensure that similar incidents don’t happen again and the number with this belief has increased although close to 40% still don’t believe this. The next step is ensuring that those that aren’t reporting incidents, as shown above, understand that if they do steps will be taken.

This also leaves open the question as to whether action is not being taken or that this is not being fed back to the person making the report.

When errors, near misses or incidents are reported, my trust takes action to ensure that they do not happen again

My trust treats reports of errors, near misses or incidents confidentially

Sadly there are still stories of individuals being bullied when they do try to speak out so confidentiality is vital if people are to feel safe and secure in coming forward and reporting incidents. Over the last ten years the number feeling that their trusts would treat them confidentially has increased by 10% from just over 50% to over 60%, but again there are close to 40% who do not believe this to be the case.

My trust treats reports of errors, near misses or incidents confidentially

Conclusions

Overall most measures of communication in the survey showed improvements but that there was still some that felt that they couldn’t report or that the senior management wouldn’t act upon what was reported.

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