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Press Release Press Release Press Release     Press Release

17 April 2003



Embargoed until 01.00 Sunday, 12 October 2003 

Bullying of health visitors, school nurses and community nurses in the NHS is widespread and rife, says a new survey released today
(Sunday, 12 October).

And managers are failing to eradicate it, according to a new survey by the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association
(CPHVA) and the Mental Health Nurses Association (MHNA).

Now Amicus – parent union of the CPHVA and the MHNA – is calling for a system of anti-bullying Ombudsmen to co-ordinate and monitor policies at the strategic health authority (SHA) and primary care trust (PCT) levels in England and their equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Ombudsmen working at SHA level would deal with individual cases that have exhausted all the PCT’s internal procedures –
and where the community nurse is still dissatisfied with the outcome.

The survey of 537 community nurses across the UK revealed that half of them had been bullied at their current place of work,
mainly by senior colleagues.

However, many don’t complain at all – the main reason being that community nurses thought that they would make the situation worse for themselves.

Excessive supervision, criticism on minor matters, constant humiliation and the belittling of an individual’s effort,
often in the front of others were the most common complaints.

This was followed by being ostracised and marginalised, open aggression, threats, and shouting and abuse.

Karen Reay, the Amicus/CPHVA lead officer on bullying, said: ‘We have known for years from individual cases
of our members that bullying was an unchecked and rampant epidemic in the NHS.’

‘Now, for the first time, we have hard facts from across the UK which paints the full - and horrifying - picture.’

The survey identified more than 20 different individuals, with whom the issue of bullying was raised with, including colleagues,
solicitors and MPs. Only 10% of those who complained were ‘satisfied’/’very satisfied’ with the way that management dealt
with their complaint. A total of 37% were ‘appalled’ by the management’s response.

Of the 34% of the total survey that had to take time off because of illness and stress, just under 50% had to be off work
for more than a month – the average time was four months (129 days).

Karen Reay said: ‘If I were a government health minister or a senior NHS manager, I would be very worried about the corrosive effect that bullying has on NHS staff and the knock-on effects in terms of patient/client care, with nurses being off work for considerable lengths of time.’

‘The human and financial cost of bullying to the NHS is too high for it to be ignored any longer. At the moment, staff aren’t sure who to turn to when every existing avenue has been pursued.’

‘The Ombudsmen working at strategic health authority level should have the power to instigate further investigations, seek specialist advice, order compensation for staff, and to order disciplinary procedures against the bullies’


For further information, please contact:

Shaun Noble Communications Officer ( (020) 7939 7043

mobile ( 07768 69 39 40

CPHVA press releases can be seen on the CPHVA web site: amicus-cphva.org

 The CPHVA represents health visitors, school nurses, practice nurses and registered nurses working in the community in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The CPHVA is an autonomous professional section of the amicus trade union. MSF joined with the AEEU to form amicus, the UK’s second largest union, on 1 January 2002.



For further information, please contact

Shaun Noble Press Officer (020) 7939 7043 Mobile 0468 69 39 40 MSF

press releases can be seen on our web site: amicus-cphva.org

Amicus/MSF represents 65,000 health service professionals including the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists, laboratory scientific staff, the College of Health Care Chaplains, the Community Psychiatric Nurses Association, the Medical Practitioners' Union, clinical psychologists, speech therapists, the Hospital Physicists Association and the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association.

Amicus/MSF has 400,000 skilled and professional members in a wide range of industries. It is the UK's second largest union.