Last updated:

Bullying and harassment research

Data and research

As part of our work on this important topic, we have conducted a review of survey data and recent research, which highlights the scale of the problem and gives some insights into what is needed to address it.

Download the full research report (PDF)


The numbers paint a stark picture

  • 22% of NHS doctors and dentists experienced bullying, harassment or abuse from other staff in the preceding 12 months, (this compares to 24% for all NHS staff) according to the NHS England Staff Survey (2016).
  • Although NHS Scotland and Wales staff survey findings suggest lower levels of workplace bullying and harassment, compared to NHS England, in Northern Ireland, the HSCNI survey suggests similar levels to England.
  • The NHS England Staff Survey found that, by grade, 23% of consultants, 20% of trainees and 24% of other doctors and dentists (including SAS grade doctors) had experienced workplace bullying, harassment or abuse in the previous year.

bullying and harassment graph

View full-size image


Only a minority of doctors report incidents to their employer

  • According to the NHS England Staff Survey, only 33% of doctors and dentists who had suffered workplace bullying, harassment or abuse in the past year reported the latest incident, which is significantly below the proportion for all NHS staff (47%).
  • Only 1% of trainees were willing to submit details of incidents to the GMC NTS survey so that they could be investigated by deaneries or local education and training boards. The most common reasons for not reporting were feeling that it would not make any difference and fearing adverse consequences.

bullying and harassment graph

View full-size image


Who is more vulnerable to bullying?

Staff with certain protected characteristics are more vulnerable to workplace bullying or harassment.

The results of the NHS England Staff Survey show:

  • Disabled staff in the NHS are the most likely to experience bullying or harassment (32%),
  • Followed by LGBT staff (27-30%)
  • Black staff and those from some other minority ethnic groups are more likely to be targeted than white staff (24% of BME staff as a whole compared to 22% of white staff).
  • Women are slightly more likely to be on the receiving end than men (23% compared to 21%). However, other research shows that women doctors are significantly more likely to suffer sexual harassment in their careers than men.


SAS doctors

In 2015 our survey of SAS doctors across the UK, found that more than a third had experienced bullying, harassment or victimisation at work over the preceding 12 months and a similar BMA survey of SAS doctors in Wales, found that half had experienced bullying, harassment or victimisation.

The survey also found that only a minority reported incidents and, of those who did report, most were not satisfied with the outcome.

Read the SAS doctor survey findings