Queen Alexandra Hospital’s board vows to change bullying culture

Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham Picture: Chris Moorhouse
Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham Picture: Chris Moorhouse
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BOARD members have vowed to change a hospital’s culture after a report showed hundreds of staff confessed to being bullied or harassed.

Portsmouth Hospitals’ Trust Board met today to discuss the report conducted by Professor Duncan Lewis over a nine-month period which concluded with recommendations to rectify issues.

Chairwoman Melloney Poole OBE said: ‘We are committed to making improvements where possible and working towards the recommendations.’

READ MORE: Bullying investigation at Queen Alexandra Hospital uncovers hundreds of staff working in ‘toxic’ departments

More than 1,100 staff took part in a survey but chief executive Mark Cubbon mentioned Professor Lewis was ‘disappointed’ with the lack of employees who completed it but staff feedback raised concerns the survey was too long.

Drawing from the survey, focus groups and one-to-one interviews, the report concluded in broad terms that the Trust is ‘well-led’ and there is not a widespread bullying problem however individuals reported inappropriate behaviour including intimidation, a lack of support and racism.

Inability to sleep, anxiety, depression and panic attacks were examples given by staff as to how the bullying had affected their personal lives.

READ MORE: QA bullying report: Staff reveal they ‘come to work crying’ and have confidence destroyed

Non-executive director Martin Rolfe suggested peer-on-peer disputes should try to be resolved without managerial input.

Mr Cubbon said: ‘I had an interesting conversation with staff that years ago whole departments would go out together but now there are smaller groups within teams which leaves people feeling isolated and that is causing some of the issues.’

There was staff confidence in the executive team to change what was described as a ‘blame culture’. The board spoke about providing more support to middle management as well as continuing with their three-year ‘Culture Change’ programme which includes 15 agents working with staff to identify the hospital’s culture and what they want the future to look like.

Non-executive director David Parfitt told the meeting’s attendees that many companies had put more emphasis into leadership and management training over the last few years and that ‘this is nothing new’.

Ms Poole added: ‘I think it brings comfort that there is a lot of expertise already out there for this area and we are not reinventing the wheel. Our mission is to support staff so they can deliver the best care to patients and to make people want to come to work.’