A health boss has apologised unreservedly to staff after a survey revealed harsh criticisms of her trust’s culture and leadership.
Lisa Rodrigues, who runs Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said that a cultural change is needed, starting with the board of directors.
The trust provides mental health, learning disability and substance abuse services across Sussex and employs around 5,000 workers.
Almost 70% of workers taking part in the survey felt the trust’s culture was signified by traits of blame, fear and bullying and gave examples of incidents where people were threatened and belittled.
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More than half, 53%, said that their workload was too high, and 32% felt that senior managers and the board were out of touch.
Some respondents said they felt that at times they were treated like children.
In a message to staff, Mrs Rodrigues said that workers were particularly unhappy about leadership shown when things went wrong.
She said: “This leaves people feeling stressed and anxious at times when they most need help and support from senior colleagues.
“They said we are not as good as we should be at explaining why changes need to happen, or taking their ideas and feelings into account during times of change or when services are under increased levels of demand.
“I want to apologise unreservedly to our staff who feel like this.
“It is something that I and other members of the board have thought about a great deal.
“We are concerned because there are proven links between the wellbeing of staff and patient care. And we are clear that cultural change has to start with us.”
Trust Unison branch secretary Peter Atkinson said: “We have been raising the issues referred to in the report with the trust for some time now.
“We are ready as always to work constructively and robustly on these concerns.”
In a joint statement, members of the board said that they were determined to learn from the comments and they would be working closely with staff to develop their response to the survey.