A collaborative alliance to tackle bullying

The Royal College of Anaesthetists has joined the National Guardian for the NHS and other healthcare organisations to support the formation of an alliance to address the unacceptably high levels of undermining and bullying behaviour throughout the NHS. The alliance will coordinate activity, share best practice and develop resources to tackle undermining and bullying, while also scrutinising the complex cultural, behavioural and systematic issues underpinning it.

The 2017 NHS staff survey reported a quarter of employees in trusts and foundation trusts in England were subject to undermining and bullying behaviour last year, with devastating consequences for both staff morale and patient care. This is also borne out by recent data from the National Guardian which shows that 45 percent of cases dealt with by Freedom to Speak Up Guardians involve bullying and harassment.

Dr Henrietta Hughes, National Guardian for the NHS, Freedom to Speak Up, said:

“The evidence shows that civility saves lives and that the freedom to speak up is a characteristic of the best organisations. We are acutely aware of the urgent need to redress the unacceptable levels of undermining and bullying behaviour to improve patient outcomes and the working lives of NHS staff. We realise that no one single initiative can do this.”

Professor Ravi Mahajan, President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, said:

“Undermining and bullying behaviour is unacceptable and I fully support the need to foster an honest and open culture within the NHS. By promoting factors which contribute to a supportive environment we can work towards a positive workplace. The College is committed to helping anaesthetists raise and handle concerns to ensure positive outcomes that improve patient safety.”

In addition to the College’s pledge to participate, other organisations involved are:

  • Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
  • Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland
  • Association of Breast Surgery
  • British Medical Association
  • Civility Saves Lives
  • Department for Health and Social Care
  • General Medical Council
  • National Guardian, Freedom to Speak Up
  • NHS Improvement
  • Point of Care Foundation
  • Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  • Royal College of Midwives
  • Royal College of Nursing
  • Royal College of Physicians of London
  • Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • Scottish Government.

Click here to view a video created by the University of Auckland's Centre for Medical and Health Sciences Education that demonstrates how and when to speak up.


22 October 2018