A TOP level investigation into staff bullying at the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was branded a whitewash amid scenes of outrage and disbelief at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
Members of campaign group Betrayed By Their Trust (BBTT) spoke of their disgust at the findings of the Good Governance Institute (GGI) which said that, despite 670 staff members saying they had experienced or witnessed bullying behaviour in the Trust, there was insufficient evidence to suggest it was ‘endemic’.
The figure, which was revealed at a meeting on Thursday (August 27), comes from a GGI survey of just over 10 per cent of the trust’s 6,000-strong staff about the bullying issue.
It found that 93 per cent of the 721 staff surveyed have experienced or witnessed bullying behaviour in the Trust.
Redditch resident Mandy Bridgman says she was forced to take early retirement after working at the Alexandra Hospital as an A&E nurse for almost 30 years, after being subjected to bullying, harassment and intimidation.
She said the situation became so bad at the Woodrow Drive site that 26 staff left the hospital during a two year period up to 2013.
“I am absolutely reeling,” a visibly upset Mandy said. “I wanted to stand up and say I spoke to you a year ago about my experiences – I told (trust chairman) Harry Turner and the chief nursing officer about exit interviews and the rest, so how can they assure me that anything is going to change?
“None of them look dismayed by the report – a leopard can’t change its spots.”
A survey of 721 staff identified nursing, clerical and administration as ‘hot spots’ with 223 members of the nursing directorates agreeing there was a culture of bullying.
Overall, the survey found 669 employees felt any issue raised with senior staff would not be dealt with speedily or effectively while all but seven agreed the Trust considered people who raised concerns as ‘difficult’.
The Trust’s Dignity at Work policy was deemed not fit for purpose as a document or in the way it is administered and is currently being reworked.
Following questions from the floor there were a number of outbursts from BBTT members.
One remarked how there was ‘too much self congratulation’ among board members, to which Mr Turner said all members were contrite and regretted ‘these things have happened’.
Mandy added: “They say the Trust has a big heart – no – it’s the frontline staff, the nursing staff, that have a big heart not that lot.
“There is no emotion, there is no regret – they need to hang their heads in shame.”