DAUK speaks to the Royal College of Nursing about bullying of doctors by those in management positions

Nurses have come to the rescue when doctors have been bullied at work, a survey has revealed – though some nurses have been part of the problem.

The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK), a non-profit organisation campaigning for better working conditions for doctors, compiled 602 anonymous anecdotes exposing the bullying that some doctors have endured from colleagues.

The anecdotes, shared with Nursing Standard, include some in which doctors have praised nurses for the support they offered.

One emergency department doctor told how nurses defended her when a day sister reported the doctor for drinking water and sitting down after not having had a break for 11 hours. The doctor was 28 weeks pregnant at the time and said she was ‘looked after’ by the nurses, who encouraged her to drink lots of water after she had previously passed out.

Another doctor recalled how a nurse left a cup of coffee and biscuits on their desk after seeing how tired and stressed they were. ‘I was so grateful I could have cried,’ the doctor said. But later a manager ‘sauntered in’ and poured the coffee down the sink, the doctor revealed.

However, among the anecdotes compiled by DAUK there were also incidents where senior nurses intimidated doctors.

One doctor said: ‘We had a new nursing manager that snatched a fresh [shop-bought] cup of coffee out of an emergency medicine trainee’s hand and threw it in the bin in front of her.’

Other doctors recounted ‘begging’ a sister for a key to the staff toilet, or ward sisters preventing doctors from having lunch.

The findings have led DAUK to call for health and social care secretary Matt Hancock to take firmer action on bullying in the NHS.

DAUK co-founder Samantha Batt-Rawden said bullying must be challenged, regardless of someone’s position.

‘We have no doubt that our nursing colleagues have faced similar treatment,’ she said. ‘We are one team and must stand together against bullying.’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said a new plan for employers on how to tackle bullying will be published when the NHS People Plan is released.