Health staff feel bullied

Wednesday 6th March, 2013

Hunter New England Health has published the results of its first ‘‘People Matter’’ survey, which surveyed the views of 2000 of the service’s 15,000 workers.

The survey is one of several being conducted across the public service.

More than 80 per cent of staff said they had too much work, many felt stressed and more than half felt managers did not listen to employees, handled change badly and excluded staff from decisions.

Three in five had witnessed bullying at work in the past year, one-quarter had experienced it, and one in 10 were currently victims.

Typical culprits were colleagues and direct managers and the most common forms of bullying were intimidation, exclusion and verbal abuse.

The NSW Nurses Association described some of the findings as ‘‘disturbing and very sad’’ and said most of the problems could be traced back to budget cuts and heavier workloads.

Hunter New England Health  chief executive Michael DiRienzo said health was a challenging area to work in, but they had  no  tolerance of bullying and an excellence program to create a greater sense of teamwork.

NSW Nurses Association Hunter organiser Matt Byrne said systemic problems left nurses and midwives feeling disengaged and disaffected.

‘‘A typical response is that there’s no point complaining because there’s no money,’’ he said.

Constant restructuring wore people down.

‘‘Consultation meetings become a case of ‘this is what we are going to do’.’’

Mr Byrne encouraged victims to document bullying and formally complain but said it appeared staff had little confidence in management of claims.

Mr DiRienzo said the report noted staff felt they had sufficient skills, worked towards patients’ satisfaction and that their employer promoted a diverse workforce.

‘‘We have made significant progress in responding to the areas of improvement noted by our employees,’’ he said.

Mr DiRienzo said they had an anti-bullying program that gave practical tips on recognising bullying and tolls for victims, bystanders and managers.

‘‘There is no place for bullying or harassment in our organisation and we take allegations of inappropriate behaviour very seriously,’’ he said.