Bullying and harassment of doctors

A new report that looks at bullying and harassment of doctors was released earlier this week.

The report itself - Bullying and harassment of doctors in the workplace (BMA) - is based on a belief that, "more than a third of NHS staff had been bullied, harassed or abused by other staff, managers or patients and their relatives."

However, instead of taking the view that bullying and harassment is the work of errant individuals, it is the context of the NHS that provides the main basis of analysis. This includes:

1) The training of doctors includes an ‘initiation rite’, justifying the bullying and harassment that is often a feature of the undergraduate medical culture.

2) Bullies are attracted to the caring and health professions by opportunities to exercise power over vulnerable patients and employees. It is viewed that this problem is not just confined to junior doctors, but senior doctors and consultants may be bullied by other consultants or senior managers.

3) The established culture of the medical profession is one that potentially perpetuates an environment of bullying and harassment, especially during training.

4) A culture of secrecy exists in the NHS which prevents people from speaking out and reporting bullying and harassment behaviour.

The report is worth looking at whether you work in the NHS or not as the beginning of the report starts with a general review of what is seen to be bullying and harassment. What is more, the marketisation of public services means that what occurs in the NHS may be applicable to the private sector - how times change!

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