HR director accepts NHS trust failings on bullying

The HR director of an NHS trust slammed in a report for its lack of action on bullying and harassment has pledged to address all the issues raised after fully accepting its findings.

Last week, a report by NHS watchdog the Healthcare Commission called on East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust to promote a culture of zero tolerance to bullying after finding several management failings.

The commission’s investigation in April 2005 was launched after staff and a local GP raised concerns over perceived levels of bullying at the trust. It found a lack of action by senior managers in dealing with these perceptions.

Problems between staff took a long time to resolve, there was inconsistent advice to staff from the HR department and employees felt discouraged from submitting formal grievances, the report said.

Monica Green, the trust’s HR director, said she fully accepted the report’s findings and was keen to draw a line under the issue.

“We have already made many positive changes, looking at our communication systems with staff and making them more open and honest,” she told Personnel Today.

The HR department has also reviewed its own procedures and the way it interacts with line managers, she said.

Green’s job at the trust is not thought to be under threat. She said her position as HR director was “a matter for the chief executive”.

Employers’ organisation NHS Employers said widespread bullying was a problem in a “very small minority” of NHS trusts. It said it would work with East Sussex to help implement new anti-bullying policies.

A separate report by the Healthcare Commission commended Devon Partnership NHS Trust on its efforts to tackle bullying and improve staff morale.

Last year, Personnel Today revealed that cutting the level of bullying and harassment in the NHS by just 1% would save 9m annually.

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