Disabled staff at Bedford Hospital almost twice as likely to experience bullying from manager

Charity Scope called the figures "deplorable"
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Disabled staff at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust are more than twice as likely to experience bullying, harassment or abuse from their manager as their non-disabled colleagues, new figures suggest.

Disability equality charity Scope said the figures are "deplorable", and urged the Government to strengthen its Disability Confident scheme – which employers enlist in to improve access and working conditions for disabled staff – and better protect disabled workers' rights.

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The NHS England figures come from the NHS staff survey conducted in 2022.

They show 23.3% of disabled staff at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust experienced bullying, harassment or abuse in the previous 12 months.

This fell to 10.9% of non-disabled staff, meaning disabled employees were 2.1 times as likely to experience harassment.

Across England, 16.4% of disabled staff said they had experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from a manager – 1.7 times more likely than non-disabled employees.

Thomas Hamilton-Shaw, policy manager at Scope, said: "It’s deplorable that disabled people are more likely to experience bullying from colleagues and abuse from the public.

"Our public sector should be leading the way when it comes to disability employment.

"For too long it’s been too hard for disabled people to get into work, stay in work and thrive in work. This needs to change."

The figures also show 26.1% of disabled staff at Bedfordshire Hospitals Trust said they experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from other colleagues in the last 12 months – higher than the 17.4% of their non-disabled colleagues.

Similarly, disabled employees were more likely to be abused by the public, with 36.9% reporting at least one instance in the last year, compared to 29.4% of non-disabled staff.

Mr Hamilton-Shaw said the Government must address this by strengthening the Disability Confident scheme so employers "actually improve conditions on the ground", and increase funding for the Equalities and Human Rights Commissions to better protect disabled workers.

He also urged employers to "actively improve their working environment", including implementing reverse mentor schemes for senior and mid-level employees.

Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust declined to comment, despite an approach by us.

Dr Navina Evans, NHS England’s chief workforce, training and education officer, said: "While the latest data shows some progress in reducing the proportion of disabled staff experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from their managers, there is clearly significant work still to do and it remains completely unacceptable that anyone is experiencing this at work.

"Discrimination and bullying have no place in the NHS, and that is why as part of our equality, diversity and inclusion improvement plan, trusts will be expected to take proactive and preventive action to reduce incidents of harassment, bullying and abuse experienced by staff with a disability, as well as by those who share other protected characteristics."