Information on how to deal with bullying in hospital, what bullying is, examples of bullying, why people bully and what to do if you think you're being bullied.

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  • What is bullying?

    Bullying is when someone (other service users, staff members or visitors) keeps doing or saying things to have power over you.

    Some examples of bullying behaviour:
    Verbal bullying – name calling, sarcasm, swearing, teasing or bossing you around
    Physical bullying – hitting, slapping, or invading your personal space
    Indirect bullying – excluding someone, spreading rumours or whispering
    Asking for money or other items.

  • How can bullying affect people?

    It can make people feel upset, uncomfortable and isolated. People may feel like they are to blame for the bullying. Bullying can cause loneliness, anxiety, low mood and lead to low self esteem.

    The stress of being bullied can make people in hospital relapse, become more unwell or possibly harm themselves or others.

  • Who can be a target of bullying?

    Anyone can be a target of bullying. Some people are bullied for no particular reason, but sometimes it’s because they are different in some way – perhaps it’s the colour of their skin, the way they talk, their size or their name.

    Sometimes people are bullied because they look like they won’t stand up for themselves.

  • Why do people bully others?

    There are a lot of reasons why some people bully others.

    They may see it as a way of being popular, or making themselves look tough and in charge. Some bullies do it to get attention or items, or to make other people afraid of them. Others might be jealous of the person they are bullying. They may have been bullied themselves and have low self esteem.

    Some bullies may not even understand how wrong their behaviour is and how it makes the person who is being bullied feel.

  • I think I’m being bullied – what can I do?

    If you are being bullied you should try to tell the bully what they are doing is wrong. If you don’t feel able to or if the bullying doesn’t stop, you should talk to someone you trust about what is going on.

    Some people you can talk to:
    -Friends and family

    -Advocate or Independent

    -Mental Health Advocate (IMHA)

    -Primary nurse

    -Ward manager

    -Service user representative

    -Citizens Advice Bureau

    -Chaplain or someone from your own faith

    -Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
    – North of Tyne – 0800 032 0202, Monday-Friday, 9am-4.30pm
    – South of Tyne – 0800 328 4397, Monday-Friday, 9am- 5pm

    Staff have a duty to look after you and keep you safe whilst you are in hospital.

    The staff on the ward will be told that you feel you are being bullied.

  • What can I do if I see bullying happening?

    If you see someone else being bullied you should tell the bully to stop or let a member of staff know straight away.

    If you do nothing, you’re saying that bullying is okay.

    It’s best to treat others the way you would like to be treated. You should show the bully and the person being bullied that you think what they’re doing is wrong. Help the person being bullied to tell someone they can trust.

  • What should I do if I think I might be a bully?

    Have you ever bullied someone else? Think about why you did it and how you were feeling at the time.

    Most bullies aren’t liked, even if it starts out that way. Remember, it’s best to treat others the way you would like to be treated.

  • What if I have a comment, suggestion, compliment or complaint about the service?

    If you want to make a comment, suggestion, compliment or complaint you can:
    • talk to the people directly involved in your care
    • ask a member of staff for a feedback form, or complete a form on the Trust website (click on the ‘Contact Us’ tab)
    • telephone the Complaints Department 0191 245 6672
    • email [email protected] Please note that information sent to the Trust via email is sent at your own risk
    • We are always looking at ways to improve services. Your feedback allows us to monitor the quality of our services and act upon issues that you bring to our attention.
    You can provide feedback in the following ways:
    – the quickest way for you to do this is to complete our short online survey at
    – complete a Points of You survey, available from staff.

  • References

    Warren, B.J. (2011) Two sides of the coin: the bully and the bullied. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 49(11), 22-29.

    Devoe, J.F. and Kaffenberger, S. (2005) Student reports of bullying: results from the 2001 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCES 2005-310). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

  • Other formats, references and review

    Further information about the content, reference sources or production of this leaflet can be obtained from the Patient Information Centre. If you would like to tell us what you think about this leaflet please get in touch.

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    Published by the Patient Information Centre
    2022 Copyright, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

    Ref, PIC/758/0122 January 2022 V3 Tel: 0191 246 7288
    Review date 2025