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Hundreds of staff at Kent’s ambulance service ‘bullied’ in last 12 months

PUBLISHED: 13:00 04 August 2017

Ambulance

Ambulance

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Secamb bosses described behaviours outlined in an independent report as “completely unacceptable”

Hundreds of employees at Kent’s scandal-hit ambulance service have experienced bullying and harassment over the last year, a damning report has found.

South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) was placed in special measures last year after a number of concerns were raised by watchdogs, including the treatment of some staff.

Consequently, the trust commissioned a large-scale independent report to help it better understand and help tackle bullying and harassment issues at the trust.

Some 2,000 staff participated in the research by Professor Duncan Lewis from Plymouth University, with 42 per cent of those who responded reporting some experience of bullying in the last 12 months.

The report found told stories of staff having “only two tea breaks in three years”, having instructions “bellowed as if they were a sergeant major in the army” and of employees being “genuinely fightened” about speaking out over bullying.

There was also a consistent view that a “boys club” culture exists at the trust with “questions of sexual harassment and sexual grooming occurring in some parts of the Kent area”.

The report adds: “Female employees appear to be the targets, including newly qualified young women.”

Bosses say publishing the report in full is the first step in the trust tackling its findings and insist that the behaviours identified in the report are unacceptable and HR action is being taken against individuals where necessary.

Secamb chief executive Daren Mochrie said: “I would like to thank Professor Lewis for his expertise in writing this report, although I am truly disappointed and upset that so many of our staff have experienced bullying and disrespectful behaviour in the workplace.

“In the time since my appointment in April this year, it has been very clear to me that Secamb is full of extremely dedicated and professional people who are concerned about caring for their patients as well as each other.

“However, I was also aware that the trust is facing a number of challenges and areas where vital improvements need to be made.

“One such area was high reported levels of bullying and harassment evidenced by our staff survey and from last year’s CQC inspection.

“We chose to commission this independent report to help us address this worrying issue.

“The behaviours it describes are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated, in any sense and at any level, moving forward.”

Secamb chairman Richard Foster added: “I and the whole board take the findings of the report extremely seriously.

“It is now important that we work closely with staff to build a very different workplace, where all staff will be supported and where poor behaviours will not be tolerated.”

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