DV.pngWork place bullying

All health and social care staff have the right to work in a safe and respectful enviroment which is free of abuse, harrasement, bullying and other inappropriate behaviour.  Unacceptable behaviour affects different people in different and often significant ways, harming your physical or psychological health and impacting on work and home life. Together, we are committed to supporting you to have access to resources which may resolve the matter in a way that helps everyone involved to be heard and move forward.

Workplace bullying is a persistent pattern of mistreatment from others in the workplace that causes either physical or emotional harm. It can include such tactics as verbal, nonverbal, psychological, and physical abuse, as well as humiliation.

Bullying can involve arguments and rudeness, but it can also be more subtle.

Other forms of bullying include:

  • Excluding and ignoring people and their contribution
  • Overloading people with work
  • Spreading malicious rumours
  • Unfair treatment
  • Picking on or regularly undermining someone
  • Denying someone's training or promotion opportunities

Abuse of power is the wrongful use of a position of authority to gain one's own financial or other self-interest or to influence employees through coercing other to participate in activities or decision-making that violates laws, regulations, policies or moral judgement. Students, colleagues or volunteers can also experience abuse of power.

Abuse can take different forms e.g. discrimination, bullying, harassment, humiliation, intimidation or inappropriate sexual attitudes and behaviour. Unhealthy staff dynamics are then potentially mirrored in our relationships with patients and carers. 

Any relationship with a power imbalance contains a risk of abuse. Vulnerability to abuse increases wherever there is a bias against certain groups. Abusive situations can be complex and carried out by any one or affect any one of us. 

For more information you can access the Citizens Advice here.

Inclusivity in the workplace

Microaggressions are brief commonplace verbal, behavioral, and environmental ques, that can be intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults that have the potential to have harmful or unpleasant psychological impact on the target person or group. This could be on the basis of race, income, social capital, religion, ableness, gender, immigration status, sexual orientation and/or other characteristics and these comments can often occur in the workplace.

Microaggressions increase discrimination in the workplace. By being aware of our language use we can build a more inclusive work enviroment. 

Click on the posters below to see the image full screen.


Positive actions

Where to find support?

Do not be ashamed to tell people what's going on. Bullying is serious, and you need to let people know what's happening so they can help you. By sharing your experiences you may discover that it's happening to other people, too.

Get Advice

Health and social care employees should see if they can sort out the problem informally first. If they cannot, they should talk to their:

  • Manager
  • Human Resources (HR) department
  • Trade Union Representative
  • Work place staff counselling service
  • Patient and Liaison service (PALs)
  • Freedom to Speak up

If this does not work, they can make a formal complaint using their employer’s grievance procedure. 

Stay calm

Recognise that criticism or personal remarks are not connected to your abilities. They reflect the bully's own weaknesses, and are meant to intimidate and control you.

Keep a diary

This is known as a contemporaneous record. It will be very useful if you decide to take action at a later stage. Try to talk calmly to the person who's bullying you and tell them that you find their behaviour unacceptable. 

Speak Up - Speak Up is delivered by Social Enterprise Direct on behalf of the Department of Health. The service is an innovative and dynamic approach specifically aimed at employees and managers of NHS and Social Care organisations in England and Wales.

The National Bullying Helpine - Free advice and information for anyone experiencing bullying. 

Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) helpline - Helpline for advice on bullying and harrassment within the work place. 

Freedom To Speak Up - South London and Maudsley NHS staff can access this service only. Please do so using MAUD. Freedom to Speak Up (FTSU) is a friendly, informal service that supports staff in confidence to prevent an issue from escalating. The earlier people talk about something that doesn't seem quite right at work the better.

Staff Counselling for South London and Maudsley staff - Contact details e-mail​​​​ staffcounselling@slam.nhs.uk or telephone 0203 228 3601

Citizens Advice - Citizens Advice offers support for problems at work with helpful pages will to support you to understand how to tackle work place problems and what to do at each stage.

Samaritans - 24hour helpline for people who need a listening and support service. 

Family Lives Bullying UK -  Family Lives provides targeted early intervention and crisis support to families who are struggling. The issues Family Lives support families with include family breakdown, challenging relationships and behaviour, debt, and emotional and mental wellbeing.

Royal College of Nursing - Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect at work. Bullying and harassment in the workplace is unacceptable and employers have a duty of care to provide a safe working environment for their staff.

Royal College of Psychiatrists - The Psychiatrists' Support Service is a free, confidential support and advice service for psychiatrists at all stages of their career who find themselves in difficulty or in need of support.

Royal College of Physicians (RCP) - The RCP provides an opportunity for specialties to come together and speak with a united voice on issues that affect the entire profession. We also work closely with individual specialties and specialty associations through our Joint Specialty Committees, our Medical Specialties Board and through regular meetings with specialty representatives.

General Medical Council (GMC) - To improve medical education and practice in the UK by setting standards for students and doctors.

Medical Schools Council - List of Royal Colleges and their specialities.

The British Psychological Association - Provides support and information for psychologists. 




Video: What is a wellbeing conversation?

The NHS People Plan 2020-21 sets out the ambition that “From September 2020, every member of the NHS should have a health and wellbeing conversation and develop a personalised plan.

Some of our colleagues can find it difficult to speak about their expeirence of bullying. If you would like to know how to start a wellbeing conversation you can do so here.

Looking after your own wellbeing

During difficult times we can begin to loose sleep, appetite, interest in activities and become anxious. It is important to look after our own wellbeing to maintain a health mind and body. 

Further reading

Bullying UK - Easy read bullying at work articles. 

Anti - Bullying Alliance - Long term effects of childhood bullying and work place bullying.

Healthcare and GP - How to support young people to speak out about bullying. 

Anti - Bullying Report - Anti-Bullying Alliance, with support from O2, publish 'Change Starts With Us' report outlining young people’s recommendations for change.

CIPD (The professional body for HR and people development) - Harassment and bullying fact sheet.