Study finds prevalent discrimination and harassment of NHS London healthcare staff by colleagues

  • Rhead RD & al.

  • Priscilla Lynch
  • UK Professional News
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NHS staff working in London trusts are exposed to high levels of discrimination and harassment from colleagues, with women and minority groups most at risk, according to the findings of a cross-sectional survey analysis published in BJPsych Open.

Reported incidents of workplace discrimination and bullying, harassment and abuse from NHS staff have steadily increased over the past five years, particularly in London Trusts. This study specifically looked at mistreatment of staff by their colleagues, excluding the more commonly reported cases involving patients or their families.

The study analysed survey data from 905 healthcare practitioners from 33 London trusts who participated in the Tackling Inequalities and Discrimination in Healthcare Services (TIDES) study; designed to assess their workplace experiences, perceptions of their workplace and their health and wellbeing.

Regression analysis was used to examine associations between the sociodemographic characteristics of participants, exposure to discrimination and harassment, and the association with physical and mental health, job satisfaction and sickness absence.

The results showed 21% (n=195) of the sample reported experiencing discrimination and 44% (n=413) reported experiencing bullying, harassment or abuse.

Women, black ethnic minority staff, migrants, nurses and healthcare assistants were most at risk of discrimination and/or harassment.

Experiencing either of the main exposures was associated with probable anxiety or depression. Experiencing harassment was also associated with moderate-to-severe somatic symptoms. Both witnessing and experiencing the main exposures were associated with low job satisfaction and long periods of sickness absence.

Within the context of an already stretched and under-resourced NHS, in order to combat poor job satisfaction and high turnover rates, the value of all healthcare practitioners must be visibly and continuously reinforced by all management and senior leaders, the study authors said.

Potential interventions should include structural changes to the way staff are supported and how their complaints can be addressed by leaders within the institution, they suggest.