Tackling Bullying And Harassment: LAS

London Ambulance Service:  Tackling Bullying in the NHS

Organisational profile

  • 70 main stations
  • 5,000 staff
  • Sickness absence rate in December 2015 – 5.4 per cent and December 2016 – 5 per cent
  • Turnover rate in December 2015 – 13.5 per cent and December 2016 – 9.5 per cent
  • Serves a population of more than eight million people

The Summary

In 2015, London Ambulance Service (LAS) became the first ambulance trust to be placed in special measures by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Concerns were raised about bullying and harassment and as a result, the trust recruited a bullying and harassment specialist, Cathe Gaskell, to take steps to tackle its bullying and harassment culture. Progress is reported on a monthly basis to a non-executive director, which keeps resource, energy and focus on tackling bullying and harassment.

Challenges

Work demands and pressures are high across the NHS, which can cause the atmosphere to become frantic. To address this, the bullying and harassment specialist bought training sessions to different areas of the organisation to reach as many people as possible. Time was taken at the end of each session to talk about the work that LAS is doing to tackle bullying and change the culture. Managers provided cover to encourage staff to attend.

Cathe introduced a range of actions to implement culture change across the organisation.

Bullying and harassment awareness workshops – were created to equip employees with practical tools to help make the workplace more respectful. The sessions explore the difference between robust management and bullying, discuss ‘banter’ and how it can tip into harassment, and explain practical ways to ensure cultural sensitivity.

Round table sessions –LAS commissioned an external training company, Total Conflict Management, to train 57 members of staff to become facilitators of round table conversations. Since the training, LAS has seen an increase in dialogue at all levels within the organisation. Twelve sessions have been requested by staff so far, and early anecdotes from staff say they have been helpful in getting people communicating.

A day in the life of events – he trust has run three day in the life of events over the past twelve months, which over 120 employees attended. Teams open themselves up to visits and questions for over a week to encourage employees to spend time in services that they would not normally interact with, such as legal services, NHS 111 and the hazardous area rescue team. Employees have seen this as a meaningful way to break down working in silos.

Training staff in investigating bullying and harassment allegations – To provide consistency in the quality of the reports provided, the Trust trained 70 staff to undertake investigations into bullying and harassment allegations, and seek a timely resolution.

Outcomes

The Bullying and Harassment policy name has changed to the Respect and Dignity at Work policy. Respect and Dignity ambassadors have been appointed throughout the organisation to help support staff and colleagues identify issues speedily.

The results at 12 months have included staff turnover improving, and the number of employees who would recommend LAS as a place to work has increased in the recent friends and family test results.

Sickness levels have continued to decrease and staff have commented that they like the concept of reducing conflict as early as possible using peers, versus a formal approach, and are willing to attend training to offer this skill.

To date, the trust has held 61 workshops, which have been attended by over 750 staff.

Top Tips

  • Try something new – policies alone won’t effect change
  • Involve staff at all levels, and start a dialogue not a monologue
  • Keep a focus on your campaign – even if it just one element of it
  • Wherever possible recruit a board lead to fully support your agenda – this impact will go a long way to improve the culture in your organisation

Further Information

For further information please contact Cathe Gaskell via our contact page or email healthandwellbeing@nhsemployers.org

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