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07th August 2013

Bullying at the Care Quality Commission

Recent publicity about worrying levels of bullying at the Care Quality Commission has a good side to it.

But firstly, unfortunately, the report by an independent group, People Opportunities, is damning. It suggests that the CQC has a culture in which few would want to work and which inevitably will lead to a dysfunctional organisation. Indeed, the CQC has come under heavy criticism for failing to act on patient care or high infant deaths. In some defence, there is a bit of “the chicken and the egg” here. Poor organisational performance must have contributed to these failings. But the failings themselves create further pressure and stress for those employed. In the face of strong public criticism there will be a tendency to blame individuals. That can lead to bullying.

Furthermore, given that some 90% of staff stated that they had been subjected to bullying or harassment, it is quite difficult to see where reform could start. So where is the good?

Firstly, the CQC itself commissioned this report and they did so following a staff survey that flagged up the issue. Secondly, they have openly published the results; which is a step on from a recent occurrence where they sought to cover up their own failings. Given that the organisation needs (by its very purpose) to be inherently critical of others, many eyes will be watching to see how the organisation now responds. But it seems to be making a good start.

The CQC needs to consider how to create a diagnostic culture where employees participate in examining the reasons for failure without assigning blame. If there is individual lack of capability, or commitment, then that needs to be tackled head on. However, unless collective responsibility is accepted, improvements are unlikely to be lasting. This will place a high demand on the leadership skills of the senior management team.

There may be few tears shed for the CQC, but many employees reading the report will see parallels in their own organisation, if not on the same scale. The answer for their employers lies in the same place as for the CQC. Find out what is going on via an independent report, be open about the results, show resolve to tackle the outcomes and create a diagnostic, not a blame, culture.

Malcolm Martin – QCS Expert Contributor on Human Resources


Business Support Manager

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