Ambulance service must tackle bullying and harassment

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, has urged the leadership of the East of England Ambulance Service to act on the findings of an independent review into bullying, harassment and discrimination at the Trust. 

The review was commissioned by UNISON and was conducted by the Andrea Adams Consultancy, which specialises in issues of workplace bullying and harassment. 

Some of the key findings were:

  • There are significant delays in dealing with staff grievances and complaints;
  • Concerns are mainly ignored, dismissed or are dealt with in an unnecessarily protracted way;
  • A ‘Speak Out’ culture is not promoted, and there is a fear of retaliatory action if an individual raises concerns;
  • Investigation processes are not secure and cannot be relied upon to robustly test allegations made;
  • The Trust appears to tolerate a bullying culture and managers adopt, in the main, a bullish approach to people management;
  • There is a strong perception that many issues that should be dealt with are swept under the carpet;
  • The Trust is not perceived to be a listening and learning organisation and this presents high levels of risk to patient and staff safety.

The full report can be read here.

Commenting, Norman Lamb said:

“This independent review found worrying evidence of a bullying culture at the trust, with a lack of robust processes to deal with allegations of bullying and harassment.

“Ambulance staff must have the confidence to speak out against bad practice without fearing for their careers.  It is unacceptable to allow such concerns to be dismissed, swept under the carpet, or met with retribution.

“Failure to eliminate wrongdoing not only has a damaging impact on the wellbeing of staff, but it ultimately puts patients at risk.

“The leadership at the trust must respond positively to the findings of the report and take immediate steps to act on its recommendations.”

Fraer Stevenson, UNISON Branch Secretary for the East of England Ambulance Branch, said:

“It’s vital that staff at every level feel able to speak out freely without fear of retaliation. It’s clear from the report that hundreds of our staff do not feel able to do that.

“We have some very good managers in our Trust and their voices need to be heard and empowered. Some of the poor behaviours we continue to see appears to go unchallenged and this must change.

“It’s important the Trust Board hear the concerns of their staff from across the Trust, support the recommendations in this report and commit to genuine change. This change needs to be modelled through their own behaviours and will require strong leadership.”

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