THE results of a staff survey “contradict” claims by Hunter New England Health management that there is not a culture of bullying and harassment within the region’s hospitals, a local representative of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association says.
Of the 58 per cent of Hunter New England Health employees that participated in the People Matter 2018 survey, 42 per cent had witnessed bullying at work, and 21 per cent had been subjected to it.
The Hunter Region’s rates were higher than the state average, with 33 per cent of health employees in NSW responding that they had witnessed bullying in their workplace, and 18 per cent reporting that they had experienced it.
Within Hunter New England, about 35 per cent of employees who said they had been subjected to bullying said they were bullied by a fellow worker at the same level, 21 per cent were bullied by an immediate manager, and 14 per cent experienced bullying by a senior manager.
It comes as the latest Hospital Health Check revealed that up to 61 per cent of junior doctors working in Hunter hospitals had experienced bullying, discrimination, and harassment from a staff member in their workplace.
Clare Bolton, the branch president of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association at John Hunter Hospital, said there was a “longstanding culture” of bullying and intimidation within Hunter New England Health.
“I have worked in the region for 20 years as a nurse,” she said.
“John Hunter, for a long time, has had a poor culture of intimidation.”
Ms Bolton said their members had recently passed a resolution calling for the executive management of the health district to work on eliminating the culture of bullying and intimidation in John Hunter Hospital.
In a written response, seen by the Newcastle Herald, the executive director of clinical services, nursing and midwifery Elizabeth Grist said she did not share the view that Hunter New England Health had a culture of bullying and harassment.
“The results of the People Matters survey seem to contradict that,” Ms Bolton told the Herald.
“A lot of it is low-level intimidation,” she said.
“Some of it is very targeted and could be described as bullying, but people are scared to talk about bullying because, although there are supposedly processes in place for people to report this and for it to be properly investigated, if it’s your manager that is bullying you, who do you report it to? Your manager?,” she said.
Ms Bolton said members who had spoken up about workload issues and the need for extra staff on shifts often ended up with “appalling rosters”.
Hunter New England Health was approached for comment about the People Matter results, but could not respond before deadline.