Graham Coleman


Reducing harassment, bullying and incivility in the NHS

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post. This article from Sunday’s Guardian has prompted me to put that right.

The NHS holds a special place for many of us. My family and I have had many occasions to be grateful for the care and support we’ve received at all sorts of times of the day and night. I don’t ever take for granted what we have here in the UK.

I’m also under no illusions, just because a service is filled with ‘caring’ professionals doesn’t necessarily lead to workplaces filled with peace, love and understanding. As the Guardian’s article makes all too clear.

The thing is, and the reason I felt moved to write today, in my experience many NHS Trusts are aware they face problems and recognise they have work to do to create productive, healthy, and mutually supportive workplaces. In many instances, they are taking practical steps to close the reality gap between the core values they espouse and the day-to-day experiences of some employees on the ground.

For example, we recently worked with a proactive NHS Trust that wanted us to use our drama-based, experiential approach to work with groups of employees to:

  • Establish a shared understanding of the kind of workplace they (and pretty much everyone in fact) want to work in;
  • Expose the extent of inappropriate and negative behaviours, including acknowledging their own individual shortcomings;
  • Recognise the impact such behaviours have on individuals, working relationships, and ultimately patient care;
  • Achieve clarity on what constitutes bullying behaviour;
  • Signpost where they can go for help and support;
  • Identify what each person can do to establish a more supportive and inclusive environment.

Over the course of 16 3-hour sessions of dramatised content, interactive electronic voting, and honest conversations we worked with over 350 operational employees from one hospital. The sessions were widely well received and valued.

Headline results from the sessions and a follow-up survey 6-8 weeks later included:

  • 98% of delegates on the day said the session helped them understand more what constitutes inappropriate attitudes and behaviours in the workplace;
  • 99% committed to helping create a more supportive and inclusive working environment;
  • 98% found the session worthwhile;
  • 35% of delegates went on in the weeks after the training to have a ‘difficult’ or ‘honest’ conversation in response to a situation or behaviour they thought was undesirable;
  • 83% had done all or some of what they planned during the training; and
  • 98% still felt the training had been worthwhile.

This is just one example of the proactive steps taking place in the NHS and the work we have been doing to help. On its own it won’t fix all the harassment, bullying and incivility that exists but, allied with other initiatives and changes, I believe it can help make a positive difference. As this delegate put it:

“I feel that changes are beginning.  There is still a long way to go.  I think that this course or its content should be part of the annual refresher so that these behaviours come to be automatic.”

As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If you want to create a more supportive workplace and would like to know more about our work with NHS clients, feel free to contact me.


What a Waste!

One of the biggest challenges for this decade, and for many decades to come, is how much WEEE is thrown away.

What did he just say?

WEEE, you know… Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment!

1.4 million tonnes

That’s how much electrical and electronic equipment we throw away in the UK every year. Staggering. And, of course, as technology becomes more and more central to our daily lives, and the pace of innovation gets ever quicker, giving us smaller, bigger, quicker, cleverer, faster, quieter devices and gadgets to consume, there’s more to potentially throw away.

There’s gold in them thar hills

In fact, there’s gold in them thar electronics, and lots of it, too. It’s just one of the precious resources lost whenever we fail to recycle our old electrical items and pile them into waste mountains or bury them underground. Oh, the irony, or should that be gold-ny?

Good news

We can all do something about it. We can reduce the amount of waste we’re putting in our bins. Electrical items can be recycled at most Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs). Drop off your old (maybe not so old) electrical equipment at your local HWRC and they’ll be sent on to Electrical Waste Recycling Centres. Here’s the cool bit, if an item cannot be repaired for use again (lots of items can be) it will be broken down into a wide variety of materials, including Gold, Silver and Zinc. Which then finds its ways into new items as diverse as jewellery and ships. Neat.

Spread the word

We’re currently helping to spread this positive waste awareness message to pupils in primary schools across Wakefield.

The Rubbish Show is helping to raise awareness and inspire young people to do something to reduce the amount of electrical waste we’re throwing away. Pupils are being encouraged to tell their parents, guardians and family members about the effects of waste on the environment, and to bring their old electrical items and equipment into schools, so it can be collected and recycled properly!

It’s a great initiative, we’re proud to be promoting.

Positive feedback

Here’s just a few of the things teachers have said about the show:

Very informative and highly interactive presentation. Will highly recommend.

Excellent – children loved it.

Fantastic! Really encouraging for the children. The whole school were engaged throughout the show.

A lovely, enjoyable and fun presentation that engaged and informed with lots of information.

Really informative. Extremely entertaining. Engaged all pupils.

Absolutely brilliant from start to finish!

Needless to say, we’re delighted.

It is a fantastically positive message to influence our younger generation (and their families) to consider the environment and help protect our lovely planet. We all need to do our bit.


Feel free to drop me a line if you’d like to know more about our work with schools.