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Managers ‘nonplussed’ over fighting and violence among PCT staff

Exclusive NHS managers have said they are baffled by fighting, violence and bullying among staff, in the latest evidence of the intense pressure on PCT staff facing possible redundancy.

PCTs across England have been plagued by low morale since the Government announced plans to abolish them by April 2013 to make way for clinical commissioning groups, with thousands of staff already having been made redundant and the remainder facing an uncertain future.

But morale appears to have reached a new low in one PCT, where managers said they were ‘nonplussed’ by reports of a high number of incidents of ‘physical violence at the hands of staff colleagues’ and ‘very worrying’ levels of ‘harassment, bullying or abuse from other members of staff’.

Board papers from NHS Heart of Birmingham also reveal managers’ concerns that a much greater number of attacks are going unreported. The trust has now set up a focus group to address the problem.

The board paper says: ‘With regard to the staff survey the number experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from other members of staff remains very worrying but of even more concern are those experiencing physical violence at the hands of staff colleagues.’

‘The HR department are nonplussed by this since they are not receiving complaints or incident forms nor are they being approached for support and advice on how to deal with such incidents. Ms McLellan [the PCT chief executive] said that this issue would be pursued via a series of focus groups.

‘The chairman stressed the importance of keeping a watching brief on this issue. Sir David [the PCT vice chair] commented that despite this the report was better than previous years.’

But Dr Robert Morley, executive secretary of Birmingham LMC, urged the PCT to take a much firmer stance to stamp out the fights.

He said: ‘Reading this made me wonder if it was 1 April. If it wasn’t so serious it would be laughable. PCT staff are saying they are being subject to violent attacks by their colleagues and it would appear are too frightened to report it formally, yet the board’s only response is to set up focus groups and keep an eye on things. It beggars belief.’

‘One wonders how they’d respond if it was GP practice rather than PCT staff beating each other up? A lot of questions need to be asked and the PCT must come up with some very good answers.’

NHS Heart of Birmingham was unable to comment prior to publication of this story.