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Bullying is ‘embedded’ in the London Ambulance Service, says new report

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Issue 2461
A London ambulance
A London ambulance (Pic: TheEssexTech on Flickr)

Health workers face an epidemic of “bullying and harassment” from their bosses.

That’s the shocking conclusion of an independent report produced for the London Ambulance Service (LAS) published last week.

Some 68 percent of those surveyed reported bullying, with most saying it came directly from either line managers or senior management.

The authors concluded that harassment is “embedded” in the service, and that bullies are seen to be promoted rather that investigated.

Some 66 percent of respondents had experienced verbal abuse, with a further 5 percent suffering “physical aggressive contact”.

LAS now has a chronic problem attracting new workers and holding on to its most experienced staff.

The survey team reports workers saying they are, “Demotivated and angry”, “Leaving the station as a result”, and, “I now hate the service I work for and can’t wait to leave.”


One worker said, “Some of the most unpleasant bullying managers have seen rapid promotion within the organisation over the past 10-15 years. 

“Bullying gets you recognised and gets you career progression.”

Managers who try to act in a more humane way have found themselves attacked by senior colleagues for being soft. 

The report notes, “Even the number of times managers have called staff while absent [sick] is recorded and is reported as being ‘pored over’ by those at a very senior level.”

The report said there is a “climate of fear” within LAS that could have a terrible effect on both staff and patients.

Health workers across Britain will recognise their working lives in parts of the report. 

With the Tories demanding more than £20 billion of “efficiency savings” we can expect more management intimidation.

The authors of the report argue for an independent body to take on bullying in LAS.

The real answer is that health unions must prove themselves to up to the job of defending their members and the service they provide.


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