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The rising costs of bullying

22 April 2021
2 min read
Volume 30 · Issue 8

An article I wrote for the BJN in 2012 stated:

‘It is likely that many nurses have come into contact with bullying at some point in their careers, either as victims or as perpetrators.’

Barber, 2012

This claim was taken from an article on the deliberate use of bullying as a management tool by nurses engaged in either clinical practice or management roles, or both, and I believe that the time is right to re-visit and update the original article. The specific intention here is to discover whether attitudes and practices that could be termed ‘bullying’, ‘harassing’ or ‘discriminatory’ still exist, whether anything has changed in the intervening years and if not, why not.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) (2018) stated that the NHS in all four countries of the UK has significant levels of bullying behaviour. In 2021 it updated its guidelines on bullying and harassment in the workplace (RCN, 2021). Although the term ‘bullying’ is value laden and subjective, the RCN defines bullying as the misuse of power or position that undermines a person's ability, or leaves them feeling hurt, frightened, angry, or powerless (RCN, 2005: 11). Bullying can also be defined as being:

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