Staff speak out about bullying
Kent’s ambulance service is plagued by bullying, sexual harassment and grooming and is run by a managerial ‘boys club’ which creates a toxic environment, according to a report.
More than 40% of the 2,000 South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) staff who participated in the research reported being subjected to bullying in the past year.
Female staff reported being groped and leered at in front of colleagues and patients, some male employees were described as “predators” who “groomed” students for sexual ends and there was evidence of sexual favours being traded for promotions.
The independent report, which was commissioned by SECAmb and produced by Plymouth University’s Prof Duncan Lewis, follows concerns raised in the trust’s staff survey and last year’s damning CQC report.
It concluded the failures of the trust to address the issues of bul- lying and harassment “has left many employees bereft of confidence and direction”.
It added there was too much “organisational noise” around the problems and the level of staff reporting issues was truly shocking.
Unmanageable work loads, excessive monitoring of staff and opinions being ignored were also flagged up by respondents.
Half of respondents reported being treated in a disrespectful or rude way; more than a third experienced intimidating behaviour or felt threatened; a third reported regular exposure to gossip, rumours, insults and alienation; and a quarter were teased or the butt of jokes which went too far.
At the root of many of these issues was a managerial “boys’ club”, who had progressed through the trust together, which created a toxic environment and made many staff feel like they could not progress unless their face fitted.
The HR department responsible for dealing with grievances was described as dysfunctional and many of its employees were seen as bullies.
The report praised staff who came forward, many out of a sense of “moral duty”, and said they feared for their jobs.
The trust, which covers about 3,600 square miles employs about 4,000 people.
Daren Mochrie, chief executive of South East Coast Ambulance Service, has described the behaviour highlighted in the report as unacceptable