London Ambulance has had a bullying and harassment culture 'embedded' into the organisation, according to specialists hired to investigate a rise in complaints by staff.
Verbal and physical abuse, name-calling, ostracisation, sexual harassment, micro-management, misuse of power, target culture and cyber-bullying had all been experienced by workers, according to the report.
The report identifies former chief executive Ann Radmore, who quit her £350,000 role in January - along with other executive and senior managers, as seen as knowingly or unknowingly tolerating a bullying culture.
Names of alleged bullies have been handed to the head of organisational development.
New chief executive Dr Fionna Moore said in a statement: “We sincerely regret the findings of this report and are very sorry that some people have had this experience.
“We fully accept the recommendations of this report and from today, we will no longer tolerate bullying or harassment of any kind, at any level.”
She said steps had been taken to recruit more staff and change the way it responded to emergency calls to ease the pressure on staff.
As many as 279 employees were questioned confidentially as part of the survey in October and November by the Andrea Adams Consultancy, sparked after a staff survey in July 2014 highlighted a rise in incidents.
Although the numbers were a small percentage of the overall 5,000 workers, the report said that in its professional opinion a bullying culture existed.
The report, embossed with a sticks and stones logo, also said:
- the organisation's response to bullying and harassment was poor, with incidents being tolerated
- there was a blame culture overly focussed on targets, not patient care or employee wellbeing
- people management was poor and incidents were not investigated or dealt with
One anonymous worker, some of whom broke down in tears as they were questioned about their experiences, said: 'It has become a way of life in the LAS. People are too scared to make a complaint.’
Another said: 'Some of the most unpleasant bullying managers have seen rapid promotion within the organisation over the last 5-10 years.'
The report was completed by January, and shown to the new chief executive and executive management team then but only released yesterday.
Chief executive Ann Radmore, a former chief executive of Wandsworth PCT and South West London NHS, announced her surprise resignation in January 2015 after questions in parliament about the performance of London Ambulance's response to 999 calls.
Now, national programme director of the Better Care Fund, she is identified in the report by workers as 'remote', compared to her predecessor.
One worker said: ‘The recent strike action in October was not just about pay. It was more 75-80% about Ann and the Senior Management Team.’
Another said: ‘It comes from the very top down. They don’t care. It’s all about their reputation.'
The report said there was a great deal of cynicism from staff as to whether the review would achieve anything.
London Ambulance said that it would run awareness training for all managers, create a dignity at work scheme, train internal investigating officers and recruit external investigators, and create a harassment advisory service.
It will also resurvey employees in six months time to monitor its progress.
Malcolm Alexander, chairman of the London Ambulance Patients Forum watchdog, said: "The forum welcomes the commitment of the new leadership of the LAS to freeing paramedics from the oppressive culture of bullying and harassment and supporting them to provide outstanding care.
"We will hold the chief executive and board accountable for this radical transformation in the culture of the London Ambulance Service."