Three hospitals in Lincolnshire have been told by the National Guardian’s Office to tackle what they called a bullying culture and to improve speaking up policies.
Bosses at the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust had failed to listen to the concerns of staff, according to the damning report by the National Guardian for the NHS.
The report was published by the National Guardian’s Office after a letter to them described how “senior managers feel compromised, bullied and afraid to speak out”.
The anonymous letter also revealed that where workers had spoken up, the trust had “swept [them] under the carpet and filed [them] into the difficult to handle tray.”
Following the review of the speaking up culture, procedures and policies, NHS chiefs have been given 23 recommendations of where the trust can improve over the next 12 months by the National Guardian’s Office.
The report also mentions several workers that approached National Guardian Officials to speak about their experiences of speaking up and when they felt the trust had not responded appropriately.
The National Guardian’s Office reported a number of concerns about the “fear among some staff groups regarding repercussions of raising concerns and bullying and harassment.”
Dr Henrietta Hughes, National Guardian for the NHS, said: “We received information that the trust’s support for its workers to speak up was not always in keeping with good practice, including instances where workers had spoken up anonymously to the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
“Our review found that the trust had failed to respond appropriately, including where staff had raised serious safety issues. We also found evidence of the existence of bullying in the trust and a bullying culture within specific teams that made workers fear the consequences of speaking up.”
Doctor Peter Reading, Chief Executive of the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Foundation Trust, said in a statement: “We are keen to learn from the report findings to help us strengthen our approach to speaking up.
“We know that our staff have not always been listened to in the past but we are determined to create an open and honest culture where they feel fully supported to speak up about any concerns they have.
“We want to ensure that where staff do speak up they feel listened to, taken seriously and their concerns are acted upon.
“We will be reviewing our policies in line with these recommendations and a detailed action plan will be going to our next board meeting.”
The trust was recently inspected by the CQC in October and November 2016 and received an overall rating of “Inadequate”.
Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust has three hospitals, Goole District Hospital, Scunthorpe General Hospital and the Diana Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby.
The trust provides services to over 350,000 people across North Lincolnshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire, and employs around 6,500 staff.