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4.2 How would I know if there is a problem with poor workplace behaviour in my department?

Poor workplace behaviours are common.

Sadly it is likely that they are occurring in your department in one form or another.

  • In 2018, 24% of NHS staff reported being bullied.1 For midwives this figure was 23.9%.
  • These rates were higher BME and LGBT staff groups as well as those with long lasting health conditions and illness.2
  • A survey of O&G Consultants found that 44% reported having been persistently bullied or undermined.3
  • The GMC National Training survey in 2014 found that 8% of respondents reported bullying and 13.6% reported witnessing bullying.4
  • Up to 25% of nursing staff experience bullying behaviour and the main perpetrators are those in management positions senior to the person being bullied.5
  • In a survey of midwifery students over 50% stated they had suffered intimidation, excessive criticism and belittling of their work.6

Assessing poor workplace behaviour

Here are some of the ways that you might realise, or use to assess, issues with poor workplace behaviour in your department.

  1. Being subjected to or witnessing it yourself
  2. Informal reports or complaints received by senior members of the department such as a supervisor, clinical director or senior midwife
  3. Formal complaints received by the department
  4. Staff may come and talk to you directly
  5. Word of mouth / gossip
  6. Feedback surveys
    • Surveys that you conduct yourself (best done online in an anonymised fashion and capturing a diverse workforce group) e.g. trust survey, department wide survey, routine survey of departing staff, "exit interviews" for departing staff
    • Training Evaluation Form (TEF) – This annual survey is run by the RCOG and completed by all UK trainees in O&G
    • GMC National Training Survey – This annual survey covers trainees in England only.
  7. Workplace Behaviour Champions: You have a Regional WPB Champion (and may have a local champion too), who may pass the information onto you
  8. Your trust’s Freedom to Speak up Guardian may have been contacted
  9. Representatives: such as junior doctor representatives, SAS leads or RCM workplace representatives, who may pass the information onto you.
  10. Feedback from educational institutions such as an affiliated university or Health Education England (HEE)
  11. Long-term markers of systemic issues such as poor staff satisfaction, low staff retention, high sickness absence and patient safety concerns.


1. NHS Latest Staff Survey

2.Breakdown questions 2020 

3.Consultants as victims of bullying and undermining: a survey of Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists consultant experiences

4. Bullying and undermining report 

5.Sheffield Hallam -  An exploration of bullying behaviours in nursing : a review of the literature 

6. Midwifery must take steps to deal with professional bullying