Employment news, Research perspectives

NHS surveys show worsening of bullying and harassment towards BAME staff

In the latest NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard Report almost a third of black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) NHS staff reported having been bullied, harassed or abused by colleagues in the past year. Fewer than a quarter (24 per cent) of white colleagues in the NHS reported similar treatment.

The WRES annual report, launched in April 2015, measures the experience and career opportunities of both BAME and white NHS workers using nine indicators, including workforce representation, training, access to promotion and exposure to discrimination.

This latest report shows that five years after the NHS launched a drive to improve race equality in the health service, BAME NHS staff reported a worsening experience. The latest figures found 15 per cent of BAME staff have been personally discriminated against by a manager, team leader or other colleague at work, compared to 6 per cent of white NHS workers. 

The report also found there had been a rise in staff reporting abuse and bullying from patients and the public. Almost a third (30 per cent) of BAME staff reported experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from patients, patients’ relatives or the public, compared to 29 per cent in 2018.

The WRES data coincided with the release of the NHS Staff Survey that covered responses from over half a million workers. This also indicated harassment and abuse was on the rise more generally in the health service. 

Almost a third (29 per cent) of NHS workers have been bullied, harassed or abused in the past year by patients and members of the public, the survey found. It revealed one in five (19 per cent) reported being bullied by other colleagues, and 12 per cent by managers. Of those saying they experienced discrimination at work, almost half (45 per cent) cited their ethnic background as the reason for such discrimination, up 4 per cent from last year.