NHS staff caring for dying Covid-19 patients 'bullied' at Nottingham hospital

Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham Credit: PA Images

Health workers caring for dying Coronavirus patients at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham have been subjected to ‘bullying,’ a union is claiming. 

UNISON says staff looking after end-of-life patients at the hospital's only COVID-19 ward dealt with “systematic bullying, harassment and discrimination.”

It says it has now raised a “collective grievance” on behalf of 36 employees.

  • UNISON representative Dave Ratchford describes some of the claims of mistreatment allegedly suffered by staff at QMC

One of the staff members, who did not want to be identified, said they were sent in with inadequate training and support: 

We were caring for people as they died, using our own phones to Facetime their families, bagging their bodies and then dealing with their relatives. It was incredibly stressful.

Normally, the palliative care team who deal with end-of-life patients handle 200 deaths each year – we dealt with 185 in just 19 weeks. People doing that job normally receive high levels of training and support because of the stress. We had none of that.

An unidentified health worker at QMC
QMC Credit: PA Images

Others claim to have been “shouted at openly in the ward in front of others.”

And there have also been allegations that staff were denied access to personal protective equipment, as it was “kept locked in an office.”

Another one of the claimants says the alleged bullying was “started by the managers” after concerns were raised:

There was a sickness board with everyone’s individual illnesses on display in the break room to intimidate you into coming in, however ill you were.

If you went sick, you were taken into a meeting and your sickness record was discussed, going back up to 16 years.

Another unidentified health worker at QMC

In a statement, the Trust said,

We received a grievance over the weekend, but this was the first we had heard about these issues. We are really disappointed to hear about the concerns that have been raised and we are taking them very seriously.

We greatly value our staff for the incredible dedication and resilience they have shown during the pandemic. They have done amazing things in the face of truly unprecedented challenges, so to hear of these grievances is very troubling indeed. Bullying and harassment are not tolerated in our organisation

Dr Neil Pease, Chief People Officer at Nottingham University Hospitals