Experiences of bullying and racial harassment among minority ethnic staff in the NHS

Author(s): Laia Bécares;  

Briefing series: Better Health Briefing Paper 14

Publisher: Race Equality Foundation

Publication date: November 2009

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Experiences of bullying and racial harassment among minority ethnic staff in the NHS
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Bullying and harassment is a persistent experience for many workers in the NHS. But black and minority ethnic staff across all staff groups have disproportionate experiences of bullying and racial harassment. Despite the initiatives put in place, bullying and racial harassment are also under-reported, meaning that workers remain unsupported, often suffering poor health as a result.

Key messages:

  • Disproportionate experiences of bullying and harassment have been reported by minority ethnic staff in the NHS. For example, the latest NHS Staff Survey found that 10% of minority ethnic staff, as compared to 7% of white staff, reported experiences of bullying and harassment from a manager or team leader. Similar rates of increased bullying and harassment have been reported by nurses and junior doctors from minority ethnic groups.
  • Given its subtle nature, most events of bullying and harassment are not directly reported to employers. There are ethnic differences in reporting, and studies have shown that whereas 67% of white nurses' employers are aware of bullying and harassment problems, only 51% of minority ethnic nurses' employers know of these incidents (Healthcare Commission, 2009).
  • Experiences of bullying and harassment are associated with poor organisational and health outcomes, including higher levels of job induced stress, higher sickness absenteeism, lower productivity and intention to leave the job.
  • Support has been found to alleviate the detrimental impact of bullying and harassment on organisational and health outcomes. However, only a minority of victims report receiving it.
  • There are initiatives to tackle bullying and harassment in the NHS, but efforts to target racist bullying and harassment need to be embedded in them.

Sections:

  • Disproportionate experiences of bullying and harassment are reported by minority ethnic staff in the NHS
  • Experiences of bullying and harassment are largely under-reported
  • Bullying and harassment are associated with poor organisational and health outcomes
  • Support has been shown to protect people from some of the damaging effects of bullying
  • Tackling bullying and harassment