Study suggests NHS policies are failing to stop bullying by managers and staff sickness

Bullying and discrimination by NHS managers has led to absences among mental health workers, and past policies have failed to stop this, research shows.

Researchers analysed survey data showing that 21% of mental health workers had been bullied and 8% discriminated against by their managers in the previous year. Of these, 86% had gone sick in the year before the survey for an average of 11 days in total.

By contrast 74% of staff who had not been bullied or discriminated against took time off, for an average of eight days over the year. This means that bullying and discrimination is linked to a 37% increase in time off.

Professor Stephen Wood (pictured) and the team reported their findings in the journal Work, Employment and Society.

The researchers say that abuse from managers affected workers’ health directly and also led to a feeling that their work place was unjust and so staff felt they were justified in taking time off.

Bullying includes verbal abuse, withholding information and gossiping about a member of staff. Discrimination could include bias against a staff member based on their religion, ethnicity, age or sexual preference.