CONCERNS about bullying, harassment and patient care raised by East Lancashire Hospitals Trust staff went up by 26 per cent last year, according to a report.

ELHT staff guardian Jane Butcher, who has been in post since May 2017, updated board members on staff complaints from May last year to April at a board meeting held in Royal Blackburn Hospital earlier this week.

In her role, Mrs Butcher works closely with the senior HR team, head of occupational health and staff wellbeing and the unions to address support for staff who have reported experiencing forms of bullying and harassment.

For the period May 18 to April 19 there have been 185 concerns raised which is an increase of 26 per cent from the previous year’s figure of 143 May 17 to April 18.

The main area of concerned raised with Mrs Butcher was potential bullying by a colleague, with 42 cases.

Concerns over the care received by patients were raised 36 times, while lack of support by managers was raised with Mrs Butcher on 30 occasions.

There were 28 cases of potential bullying by managers, 21 instances where support through the HR process was a concern and 15 generic work-related issues.

Lack of communication, inappropriate behaviour by managers, safety risks to patients and non-patients, and wellbeing and work environment concerns were also raised with Mrs Butcher over the course of the last year.

Mrs Butcher said: "The senior nursing team or senior clinicians are directly involved with all patient safety issues raised.

"Every staff member raising a concern about patient safety is offered a face to face conversation with a relevant senior person should they so wish

"Staff are encouraged regularly within their areas to raise concerns to management if they feel able to do so.

"In one area we have introduced an identifiable person on each shift who staff can raise concerns directly during shift.

"If this proves to be effect then we will look to roll this out across all patient areas.

"Concerns raised under lack of support from managers are been regarding a variety of different issues from communication to managers appearing to lack compassion.

"To address these concerns overall, the trust is in the process of delivering the ELHT culture and leadership programme following completion of the initial discovery phrase.

"A change team has been working collectively on this programme and the staff guardian is a member of this team.

"Also the engaging managers course continues to run successfully looking at effective styles of communication and engagement with staff."

Eighteen of the patient care concerns were raised collectively within an area were a staff guardian review was undertaken.

The review was shared with senior management of the area and the executive director.

An action plan was immediately drawn up to resolve these concerns and a feedback meeting was held with all staff.

A further nine were also collectively raised in relation to staff shortages and 1 to 1 care of patients.