Staff bullying concerns raised about largest NHS trust

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Staff members at all levels and across all sites of England's largest hospital trust have expressed concerns about being bullied, a report has shown.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found "staff morale was low" at hospitals run in central and east London by the Barts Health NHS Trust.

A Barts Health NHS Trust spokeswoman said the report was "tough but fair".

The trust has a workforce of 14,000 and serves an area with a population of about 2.5 million people.

The CQC inspected the quality of care provided by Barts Health NHS Trust across three acute hospitals, three specialist hospitals and two birthing centres in central and east London.

'Risk of harm'

In November, it inspected the Royal London Hospital, Whipps Cross University Hospital, Newham University Hospital, the London Chest Hospital, St Bartholomew's Hospital, Mile End Hospital, the Barkantine Birthing Centre and the Barking Birthing Centre.

The CQC's Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: "We found that Barts Health NHS Trust was, in the main, providing services that were safe.

"On a more negative note, we found that staff morale was low," he added.

Start Quote

Bullying has no place at Barts Health”

End Quote Barts Health NHS Trust spokeswoman

"Too many members of staff of all levels and across all sites came to us to express their concerns about being bullied, and many only agreed to speak to us in confidence.

"The trust needs to take action to make sure people feel confident to speak up."

Elsewhere, the report said that three warning notices issued to Whipps Cross Hospital, in east London, in June 2013, had been lifted following the inspection.

But it said staffing levels were "variable" across the trust's services and that equipment was "not always readily available" which "placed patients at risk of harm".

A Barts Health NHS Trust spokeswoman said the report "recognises our challenges, where we have made progress, some of our areas of good practice, and confirms the care, commitment and compassion of our staff. Crucially, it highlights where we need to improve".

She added: "We are reaffirming very strongly that bullying has no place at Barts Health, and staff are strongly encouraged to raise any concerns they have about their workplace or the care provided to our patients. "

The Royal College of Nursing responded to the report saying: "The report repeats serious warnings about the staffing levels at Barts Health and says explicitly that problems with bullying, stress and low morale have to be addressed if the trust are to achieve their vision.

"It is hard to see how this is reconciled with the trust's decision to cut 200 nursing posts before Christmas and cut pay for several hundred more."

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