Bullying; the spider infestation threatening the NHS

14th September 2012 by NASGP

When I joined my CCG as a clinical lead 15 months ago I arrived with a healthy dose of terror. I knew I’d spend the first few weeks looking dazed and struggling to follow what was going on and I wasn’t wrong, but before too long I’d mastered pigeon management-speak, worked out how to work the coffee machine, and felt like one of the team. The biggest hurdle I have come across is actually something which I hadn’t seen coming – spiders.

I don’t mean arachnids, I mean cunning venomous humans who appear harmless until you get too close, quiet until you step on their territory, threaten their power, or throw a light on their shortcomings, but who then attack with terrifying fervour with the sole intention of eliminating the threat. At school they were called bullies. In the NHS they’re called high fliers.

Now let me be clear, I work with a lot of NHS managers and clinicians and through my networks know of many, many more. The vast majority are respectful, honest, kind people. Sadly, however, not all. In every organisation it would seem are a few vicious bullies, throwing their weight around, terrorising colleagues, using the declared intent of ‘trying to get things done’ as their excuse. They appear disguised as clinicians, as managers, and even occasionally as patients. They are a threat to be feared and must be caught under a glass, inspected carefully, then chucked out the window.

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