Committee set to fight growing bullying threat

An all-party group of MPs led by Baroness Gibson is to investigate
widespread staff bullying within the NHS, following a string of complaints to a
charitable trust designed to support workplace victims.

Gibson, who is chair of the Andrea Adams Trust (AAT) which runs a helpline
and advice service, told Personnel Today that, as Europe’s biggest employer,
the NHS is particularly prone to workplace bullying.

Reasons include the top-heavy hierarchy and extreme work pressures, she

The 50-strong group of MPs and trade union members hopes to make its
findings public by the end of the year. It includes Valerie Davey, the MP for
Bristol West who recently highlighted workplace bullying in the House of

The Government is against imposing legislation to tackle the problem and has
instead pushed it to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), which has
responded by folding it under the umbrella of stress-related issues.

The HSE is optimistic its new stress management standards, currently being
piloted, will provide employers with a useful tool to combat bullying at work.

Organisations have a duty to protect the mental health of their staff under
the Health and Safety at Work Act and it is likely that employers that continue
to ignore the stress standards, which will be phased in during 2004, will face

Personnel Today learned of the investigation into bullying within the NHS
during a meeting of trustees of the AAT at the House of Lords last week.

By Penny Wilson

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