A quarter of employees in trusts and foundation trusts were subject to bullying and undermining last year.

That’s according to an NHS Staff Survey, which found high levels of undermining and bullying specifically within the NHS.

A number of organisations across healthcare gathered in Scotland to discuss the issue at a meeting recently.

‘Evidence shows that civility saves lives and that the freedom to speak up is a characteristic of the best organisations,’ Dr Henrietta Hughes, National Guardian for the NHS, Freedom to Speak Up, said.

‘We are acutely aware of the urgent need to redress the unacceptable levels of undermining and bullying.

‘This will improve patient outcomes and the working lives of NHS staff.

‘We realise that no one single initiative can do this.

‘We also realise that change will only come through long term and sustained interventions to support all workers in the NHS.

‘The meeting this week was the beginning of this process and one we will broaden to include as many organisations and initiatives as possible.’

Best practice

Almost half (45%) of cases dealt with by Freedom to Speak Up Guardians involve bullying and harassment.

Participants at the meeting agreed to form an alliance to share best practice and develop resources going forward.

‘We are extremely grateful that such a broad section of organisations showed a real willingness to work collectively on this issue and build on the excellent work that is already in place,’ Alice Hartley, chair of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh who hosted the meeting, said.

‘More can always be done.

‘We would extend an open invitation to royal colleges, trade unions, regulators, system leaders and any NHS organisation across the four nations of the UK to join us to create an alliance for change.’