• More than a quarter of NHS staff experience harassment, bullying, or abuse from patients, relatives or the public. A similar number face this treatment from fellow staff members.
  • This is highest in Ambulance trusts, where almost half of the staff members have faced harassment from patients, relatives, or the public. In Acute specialist trusts the percentage is lower, but still a fifth of staff.
  • Of selected staff groups, operational ambulance staff face the most abuse, followed closely by nursing/health care assistants and registered nurses and midwives. General managers are twice as likely to be abused by a member of staff as a patient, relative, or the public.

Chart showing NHS staff experience of mistreatment by type of trust.

Note: a selection of trust types and staff groups are shown; trust type data is weighted. 
Source: NHS Staff Survey, 2015.

There are a number of ways to try and understand the treatment of staff in the NHS. One of the most robust ways is the NHS Staff Survey, which is conducted yearly. The data from 2015 show that more than one in four (28%) in the NHS experience harassment, bullying, or abuse from patients, relatives, or the public. This is similar to how staff are treated by other staff (25%). This hides wide variation between different types of trust. Staff members at ambulance trusts experience the highest levels of abuse (with almost half experiencing it from patients, relatives, or the public), whereas acute specialist trust staff experience the lowest levels. Nonetheless, a significant minority of staff suffer from abuse across all types of trust. These data are weighted to adjust for different staff composition.

There is also variation between staff groups, with operational ambulance staff facing the most abuse, followed closely by nursing/health care assistants and registered nurses and midwives. General managers face the least abuse of the selected staff groups. A general manager is twice as likely to be abused by a fellow member of staff as a patient, relative, or the public. Registered nurses and midwives are the most likely to face abuse from fellow members of staff. Medical/dental staff are the least likely (of the selected staff groups), although the difference is very small. These data are unweighted.