Bullying and blame is rife at the body in charge of mental health services across East Sussex – according to a staff survey.
More than two thirds of respondents (68 per cent) said the working culture at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust was “signified by traits of blame, fear and bullying.”
Almost half (44 per cent) criticised management, with 32 per cent saying senior managers and the trust’s board were out of touch with the front line – and 53 per cent felt the senior managers should spend more time alongside front line staff.
Around a quarter (26 per cent) said they felt they are patronised or treated like children.
And 53 per cent raised issues relating to the amount of workload being too high for the staffing in place.
Only nine per cent said they were proud to work for the NHS and just 21 per cent of respondents felt they had a good relationship with their line manager.
A lack of trust in staff from management was raised by 32 per cent, while 47 per cent felt they were not consulted or enabled to have a voice. Worrying, 21 per cent felt their ability to communicate upwards was blocked, ideas were not heeded, or it was unsafe to ask questions. Thirty five per cent just asked for the blame culture to be stopped.
Lisa Rodrigues, who runs the trust, immediately apologised to staff. She used her weekly message, which is sent to all 5,000 workers, to highlight a number of positives in the survey but clearly could not ignore the damning overall results.
She said: “There were some extremely positive findings [in the report], particularly how committed our staff are to providing safe, compassionate, evidence based services for vulnerable people, how hard they work to achieve this, and a strong sense of team working.
“But, and it is a big but, some of those who responded were critical of our culture and leadership style, particularly when things go wrong. This leaves people feeling stressed and anxious at times when they most need help and support from senior colleagues. They said we are not as good as we should be at explaining why changes need to happen, or taking their ideas and feelings into account during times of change.”