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7.3 Does bullying and undermining occur in O&G/maternity care?

Poor workplace behaviours are experienced by people of all types and in all professions.

Sadly, O&G and maternity care are no exception.

Some facts and figures:

  • In 2020 18.7% of NHS staff reported having experienced at least one incident of bullying, harassment or abuse from another colleague  in the last 12 months.1  For midwives this figure was 23.9%.
  • These rates were higher in BME and LGBT staff groups as well as those with long lasting health conditions and illness.2
  • The GMC National Training survey in 2014 found that 8% of respondents (trainees) reported bullying and 13.6% reported witnessing bullying.3 Obstetrics and Gynaecology had the worst scores in both undermining and a supportive environment of all medical specialities. This prompted a proactive ongoing approach by the RCOG to help address this in conjunction with other healthcare organisations, including the introduction of the workplace behaviours champions in each region.
  • A survey of O&G Consultants found that 44% reported having been persistently bullied or undermined.4

What does that mean in real life?

In real-life, the facts and figures translate into the fact that many of those working in O&G are negatively affected by poor workplace behaviour.  In maternity care intra- or interprofessional communication have been identified as critical contributory factors to negative outcomes in several official investigations/reports.6,7,8 You can further explore the wide-reaching negative effects of these behaviours on individuals, the team and our patients. 

So what do we do now?

Most instances of bullying and undermining are unintentional and misunderstandings will occur BUT  in the right environment these misunderstandings are addressed early, are less likely to escalate or to spread.

Use this toolkit to help you explore how to create positive workplace cultures in which poor behaviour is managed well and resolved fairly so your team can flourish.  You may find our Module 8 "Addressing poor workplace behaviours and 'calling it out'" helpful.


1. NHS staff survey 2021  PdF

2. National

3. (Accessed 26 February 2021)


5. (Accessed 26 February 2021)

6. (Accessed 26 February 2021)

7. Each Baby Counts final report in 2020

8. First report of the independent review into maternity services at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust in 2020.