Staff speak out about bul­ly­ing

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View - By Ed McCon­nell

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

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