More than half of consultants have had a negative experience in their last job planning meeting, and almost a quarter have experienced job planning related bullying, the British Medical Association (BMA) has revealed.

New figures from a survey by the BMA show that:

  • Over half of respondents had a negative experience of their job planning meeting. 25 per cent thought that in their last job planning meeting they’d been bullied and 28 per cent thought that inappropriate techniques had been used to get their agreement
  • BAME women had the worst experience of job planning. 39 per cent of BAME women felt they were bullied at their last job planning meeting. 81 per cent of BAME women disagreed that job planning was used effectively
  • White women had a far better experience. For comparison, 22 per cent felt they were bullied at their last job planning meeting, lower than 27 per cent of BAME men and 23 per cent of white men
  • Of all groups whose data was analysed, BAME men had found meetings most antagonistic since electronic job planning was introduced, with 40 per cent responding that they’ve found meetings much more antagonistic
  • 58 per cent disagreed with the statement that job planning was used cooperatively at their last meeting, and only 24 per cent agreed that it was
    Only 15 per cent agreed with the statement that at their last job planning meeting, job planning was used well and was an effective tool. 64 per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed

In 2017, NHS Improvement produced unilateral job planning guidance that directed all trusts to move to electronic job planning systems. While it is important to note that electronic job planning software is not the cause of bullying during job planning, it has been suggested that the rapid, mandated adoption of the software, and the collation of the data centrally may have led to overzealous scrutiny of consultants’ Programmed Activity.

These results align with trends exposed by the widespread national 2017 NHS Staff survey which showed that bullying and harassment remains an extensive problem in the health sector with 24 per cent of all NHS staff (one-in-four people) having reported that they have experienced bullying in some way.

Dr Robert Harwood, BMA Consultants Committee Chair, said, ‘While we had heard anecdotally that this was an issue in some trusts, we did not know how widespread it was.

These figures are troubling and show that there is a clear issue with bullying. Particularly worrying is the numbers of BAME women who have been bullied during the electronic job planning process. This is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.’

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