- The course is aimed at reducing the costs of workplace bullying within the NHS
- One hospital piloting the scheme has spent £20,000 on external consultants
Hundreds of thousands of pounds are being spent on teaching NHS personnel how to be more polite to each other – as waiting lists reach an all-time high.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that doctors and nurses are being sent on ‘civility courses’ to learn how to avoid personality clashes and have better working relationships with colleagues.
It is aimed at reducing the cost resulting from workplace bullying and harassment in the NHS, which a study by Middlesex University London Business School has put at £2.3 billion a year.
But some staff question whether public money should be spent on politeness lectures at a time when waiting lists for routine treatment have hit a record 7.77 million.
NHS England (NHSE) says that the training by management consultants, thought to cost thousands of pounds a day, is necessary for ‘complex culture change’.
One NHS worker who attended a course said: ‘The training is telling us basic stuff, such as the importance of being polite and patient with colleagues. I’m not sure it’s a good use of taxpayers’ money. The training is given by consultants in their 20s or 30s who have probably never worked in the NHS. It can sound a bit patronising if a younger person is telling older staff how to behave.’
One of the hospitals piloting the scheme, St George’s in Tooting, London, has spent £20,000 on external management consultants. The hospital trust’s management says this is a one-off cost so that it can train its staff to run in-house courses.
A spokesman said: ‘While we expect our staff to always be respectful, whether they receive training or not, this will give them the skills to cope with pressured situations – ensuring we can continue to provide the best possible care for our patients.’
A national programme to reduce staff bullying and harassment has cost £660,000 to date, according to figures provided by NHSE. From 2021 to 2023, it funded 440 places on a course titled Principles and Practice of Restorative Just Culture.
Plans for further national training are on hold during a consultation period, but NHSE says individual trusts can book training directly with Northumbria University. Yet Health Secretary Steve Barclay has said he wants to see far less taxpayers’ money being paid to outside consultants.
NHSE said: ‘There is considerable evidence that promoting civility and respect improves patient outcomes by ensuring staff can freely share views regarding a patient’s care.’
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