'It was impacting my mental health' - Nurse says she was bullied out of profession

Kate moved jobs only to find herself working with the same manager again
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

15.42 10 Jan 2023

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'It was impacting my mental he...

'It was impacting my mental health' - Nurse says she was bullied out of profession

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

15.42 10 Jan 2023

Share this article

A nurse who moved jobs twice after she was bullied on the job has said she has now left the profession completely.

Kate sent an e-mail to Lunchtime Live to tell her story and said a lot of nurses experience bullying.

She said: "I'm a nurse and went through quite severe bullying in my very first nursing job," she said.


"I just wanted to tell my story, because I do think it's quite an issue in nursing."

Kate said she went back to college in her 30s and got her first nursing job shortly after she qualified.

"As soon as I started in the role there had been a recent change of management, and I immediately got a sense of sort of tension in the department," she said.

"I quickly realised why: there was a serious issue with management in that department."

She said either experienced, or witnessed, several problems.

"The big one for me was public humiliations," she said.

"If there was a mistake made, or a mistake perceived to have been made, people would be called out on it in a public setting, in front of colleagues, in an unprofessional manner".

'Act first'

Kate said this would include "raised voices; inappropriate body language."

"In a lot of cases, it would be act first, and then find out after," she said.

"So it might be hearing one side of a story, or misunderstand something, and you'd end up going into your team handover every morning wondering, 'Who's it going to be this morning? Who's going to suffer the humiliation?'

"It would be a massive stress from the time that you left the house in the morning to the time that you ended up in that meeting.

"It happened on a regular basis: it happened to all of us, it happened to us individually, it happened to us as a team".

'More of a target'

She said some people were "more of a target" than others.

"I personally wouldn't have been as much of a target as other people," she said.

"I did see colleagues who were definitely singled out for different treatment to the rest of us".

One example she saw was when a colleague "raised a minor clinical concern about something, and it didn't go down well with management."

'A very difficult time'

Kate said those out of favour would be singled out.

"When someone was out of favour, they would be singled out to be sent on relief, and it would be very clear that that would be the case," she said.

"That particular nurse, she actually went through a very difficult time.

"There was one particular incident where she had sent a brief reply on an email and she had sent it in caps lock.

"She genuinely didn't realise that that could come across as shouting.

"Rather than just saying to her informally, 'Don't do that in future', she was called into a meeting with two managers and a really big deal was made about it.

"She was really upset about it".


Kate said there were times management would change rosters at the last minute without telling staff.

"There was other incidences where rosters would be changed at short notice, maybe someone wouldn't be told until the very last minute.

"It would feel like it was being done in retaliation for something that may have been done that management didn't like,” she said.

"We were sometimes told that if something didn't change or didn't improve or wasn't done, it would be escalated to the next level up of management.

"There was one incident where that particular manager, who we all had a fear of, was described as 'ruthless' by another manager".

'Difficult to provide proof'

Kate said she brought her concerns to the industrial relations officer of her union, who arranged a meeting with management and HR.

"I did my best to bring my concerns to them about the management style within the department," she said.

"They listened; I don't think they really took it onboard.

"A lot of what went on was done in a manner that it was difficult to provide proof of or to really pin down.

"It was a culture in the department, and I did my best.

"I did have the support of the union; they were really good. They listened and they said, 'We're sorry to hear that' - but nothing really happened.

"It just kind of burnt out, really.

"There was a culture of fear within the department, and people - for the most part - chose to leave the department or leave the hospital rather than try and tackle it"

'A toll on mental health'

Kate said she stayed for as long as she could.

"I stayed for a little bit longer because I really did enjoy the work that I was doing," she said.

"It got to the point where it was taking a toll on my mental health... for my own sake I had to move on.

"I moved on to a different nursing role, which I really enjoyed, but by a strange twist of fate I ended up dealing with one of those managers.

That was very challenging for me again, and it ultimately ended up being a small contributing factor to me leaving that job again.

"I've now left nursing completely".

"I think a lot of nurses tolerate and suffer as a consequence; and then there's others that leave either to a different area, different part of the hospital, different hospital completely, or move into something that would be nursing adjacent.

"I do think a lot of nurses experience bullying, I think it's a big problem in the sector," she added.

Main image: Nurses working. Picture by: Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

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