Nurses ‘considered suicide’ at Alder Hey

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Alder Hey Hospital © Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Alder Hey Hospital © Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Nurses at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital contemplated suicide and self-harm because of stress and exhaustion, a report has revealed.

The  report said staff at the West Derby facility had fainted in operating theatres or been ‘physically and mentally’ unable to perform procedures due to a ‘culture of fear and bullying’ from management, according to the report.

The report was disclosed after the renowned children’s hospital lost a legal battle over a Freedom of Information Act request.

Head of Psychosocial Services Alan Phillips noted in his report: “Every person who attended confidential consultations with me expressed concern for their own or other colleagues’ wellbeing with a high proportion disclosing concerns on a continuum of minor self harm to risk of suicide.”

A statement on the Alder Hey website said the overall purpose of the report was to “identify ways that staff health and wellbeing in the department could be improved and the levels of stress reduced”.

But the Medical Director at the hospital, Professor Ian Lewis, says there has been significant change since the report was compiled in 2010 and insisted patient care hadn’t been affected despite, admitting it was an unpleasant place to work.

He said: “We take the health and wellbeing of our employees very seriously.

“Robust measures were taken following the report to improve the working environment for this group of staff. These included an action plan developed with theatre staff and implemented in 2011. The action plan included a review of departmental structure, the recruitment of a Theatre Manager and a new code of conduct. Staff sickness levels have been reduced.”

Professor Lewis also said that the report undermines the ability of the Alder Centre to operate as a confidential counselling service.

He added: “Together, with the staff involved, we are extremely disappointed with the decision by the Information Tribunal to release this report into the public domain. The report discusses personal issues from a small group of staff who although are not named, are easily identifiable by colleagues across the organisation.

About Ian Bolland, JMU Journalism