Report into University Hospitals Birmingham shows "toxic" culture, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Published: Tuesday 28 March 2023
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Responding to the first Bewick report into workplace culture at University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) Dr Latifa Patel, BMA workforce lead, said:

“The toxic culture at University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) has long been of great concern to Birmingham doctors and to the wider medical community. It is good to see this report take the threat to staff wellbeing seriously and in particular the damage that can be done to recruitment and retention by such mismanagement, especially during an NHS staffing crisis where staff are working to their limits.

“Any report that deals with the suicide of a staff member is going to be fraught with difficulty and we note that there are still two more of these reports to come. However what is very clear is that bullying, poor management and a culture hostile to internal and external criticism have made University Hospitals Birmingham a horrific place to work for NHS staff who give their all to provide care for patients. It is bad enough for doctors to have to cope with the aftermath of colleague taking their own life, it is far worse to do so in an institution that shows a callous indifference to the event.

“Doctors will struggle to care for patients if they are not themselves treated with respect and care by their employer and those around them. The reluctance of UHB to cooperate with both this investigation and the BMA’s own criticisms of its culture have been deeply disappointing, but we remain hopeful that if, as its management says, it is now willing to accept these recommendations and address its shortcomings, then it can become a workplace where doctors can feel safe and comfortable in caring for patients.

“BMA can support this process through dialogue with management and will continue to monitor progress at UHB, while remaining open to those who wish to come forward as whistleblowers or simply need workplace support from their union.

“Doctors and medical students (regardless of BMA membership) who may be affected by this report can also call our free and confidential 24/7 counselling and peer support services.”

Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.