All complaints should be taken seriously and investigated quickly. It is recognised that many people who are subject to harassment or bullying do not complain about what is happening to them. Various reasons can account for their reticence; it may be, for example, because they feel embarrassed, they do not believe anything can or will be done about it, they are worried that no one will believe them or that they will be victimised. It could just be that they do not want to get the other person into trouble. Some doctors experiencing harassment or bullying from a senior doctor or group of doctors may try to cope by regarding such behaviour as simply 'part of the job'.
Bullying and harassment is not acceptable in any circumstances. If you experience harassment or bullying there are various ways of addressing the situation, which will depend on the incident and how you want to take it forward.
In the first instance it is advisable to contact your HR department to see if there is a harassment and bullying policy readily available. If you are uncomfortable contacting your HR department at this juncture you should contact your local BMA office to see if they have a policy for your Employer or ask them to contact your HR department for this reason.
If you believe that you are being subjected to bullying or harassment, you should consider keeping a diary of events, including the date/time, what happened and who was present as this will be very helpful for any action you may want to take.
Informal action is normally a very effective method of dealing with cases of bullying and harassment, but if you feel that you cannot find a resolution via this channel or you have been unsuccessful previously you may feel the need to take formal action. You should seek advice from your local BMA office before taking formal action. You may also wish to take additional advice or counselling at this stage. The following sets out a model process:
If the incident is isolated it is important to create a written report of the event with as much detail as possible and name any witnesses, if appropriate.
Make a verbal or written complaint sent in confidence to the HR Department. You may wish to get assistance or representation from the BMA, your line manager, if appropriate, the HR manager or a staff representative.
An investigative process should begin, with the involvement of the HR team if required. Where a case to answer has been found, formal disciplinary procedure against the harasser or bully should be commenced, depending on the case and Employer.
Where a possible criminal offence has been disclosed, the police should be informed of the allegation.
If it is found there is no case, ways to improve their working life should be considered and support provided. There should be a follow up process by the HR department to ensure no victimisation has taken place and that both parties are happy with the decision.