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Half of doctors have faced bullying at work

Over half of doctors surveyed by the BMA say they have been bullied by a patient while at work, according to a report published this week

Bullying behaviour cited by survey respondents ranged from rudeness and demanding behaviour all the way to physical violence.

The poll also found that doctors were bullied by colleagues, including other doctors or nurses as well as patients.

One respondent said: ‘While the stereotype is of junior doctors being bullied by seniors, I also come across senior doctors being remorselessly bullied by juniors.’

The survey of 75 doctors from around the country also revealed that over a quarter of those affected by bullying chose not to report abuse meted out by patients or colleagues.

A Belfast GP, who asked to remain anonymous, said: ‘Patients bully doctors regularly in getting their way. Too often, we give in because a complaint, however unjustified, is damaging and can cause misery and heartache for months or years.’

The BMA’s Counselling and Doctors Advice Service offers a free, confidential service for doctors affected by bullying in the workplace, the report added.

Readers' comments (11)

  • We are all being bullied by the press+doh etc in a pretty relentless manner anyway.This is just in addition to the above.

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  • Depends what they're being bullied about - if its abusable drugs then they need training on saying now and lots of support from fellow colleagues and senior staff and very clear policies on when they can say no to prescribing (e.g. pregabalin, benzos etc in a patient with substance misuse issues)
    Also a clear no tolerance policy

    Alas with general practice become more and more busy what this suggests is we no longer have the time to support each other

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  • I just had a patient's wife call me 'hopeless' as leaving, and when I stepped out of my room and patient saw me, he replied 'sorry, that came out by accident', then wife came marching back to my room, standing close to me physically even as I stepped back, and said I was 'hopeless, arrogant and not professional' and would report me to GMC as has all my details.
    So, I'm all those things, for maintaining consistent follow-up, treating a condition and putting clear plans in place (even though the wife had been rude repeatedly), and now agreeing to refer (privately), that's the attitude?!
    So, it's ok for patients/spouses to make such comments, and then behave in a bullying manner, both physically and with threat of GMC.
    Why should I put up with this?! I am a professional, deserve to be treated with respect, in the same way I show respect to others.

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  • check out how many practice managers feel they've been bullied by doctors at work!
    What comes round goes round.
    The more stressed the system becomes, the more likely something will break - evidence surrounds us

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  • Bullying is part of British Culture. It is what a monarchy is all about. I fail to even begin to understand why it is being researched... except to bully someone in the process.

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  • 10 25- that sounds awful but unfortunately all too common. I think that many GPs face similar situations all too often. I worry that all the threats are possible as the 'powers that be' have decided to bring us down a level.
    As for practice manager 11 40. No sympathy - you are fully aware of the pressures within system in general and comments of what goes around comes around essentially implies that GPs bully patients. I am certain that many of my colleagues would feel like me and disagree .

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  • 12.01
    no sympathy? how very odd of you to dsay such a thing.
    in fact, if you read my comment carefully, I say what comes round goews round - ie if the Drs are under pressure, then so is everyone els. I wasn't actually implying that Drs bully patients. far easier to bully staff!!!

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  • 12 01
    seems must be some personal issues in your work place- suggest you use the appropriate formal channels which exist for staff to resolve rather than whinging in this arena

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  • Bullying and harrassment of staff at all levels seems to be an integral pastime. The important thing is to fight this at every step. I remember a colleague saying to another - Don't fight the system as you've got the wrong skin colour'
    It was demeaning. We are a multiracial society - so whether its on this ground or any other, stand your corner and bring up any incidents that occur. This includes bullying by
    patients. Don't take it lying - consult your defence union and deal with it. A Psychiatrist wrote to me that patient had complained that she did not have a 'white doctor'. He suggested I arrange one for her. I declined. If a patient is racist he or she can go somewhere else. Patient has moved and we are working normally.

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  • Wonder how many of you have been bullied and harrassed by PCT/CCG/Propco Managers? Just raise an anonymous hand.

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