• 86% of theatre practitioners witnessed bullying within the perioperative environment
  • 39% of theatre practitioners asked to do things outside of their role scope
  • 86% of theatre practitioners concerned about patient safety due to bullying in the workplace

Poor mental health amongst nurses and the effect it has on patient care is one of the most talked-about issues in healthcare, but a recent survey carried out by the Association for Perioperative Practice has highlighted that these issues could extend far beyond nurses and in fact appear to be prevalent in an area where patient safety is equally as vital; the operating theatre.

According to the survey of just under 800 theatre practitioners, an alarming 86% feel concerned about staff wellbeing and the effect it is having on patient safety, with the results indicating that bullying is one of the major factors raising their concern.

Of those who took part, again 86% said they had witnessed bullying within the perioperative environment on more than one occasion, with 71% of these stating they had also been a victim of bullying themselves.

In addition, when asked whether they would feel able to speak up and report the instances of bullying towards them, whilst 73% said they felt they could, over a quarter of respondents said they felt they would be too scared to make a formal complaint.

Whilst bullying in the operating theatre was the biggest concern for respondents, the survey also indicated that an alarming number of theatre practitioners - 39% - are often asked to do things that fall outside of their scope of practice.

What’s more, 25% of these indicated that when asked to perform things they are not qualified to or allowed to do under their scope of practice, they felt too scared to say no.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Dawn Stott CEO of the association said: “We are all very aware of the concerns about poor mental health amongst perioperative professionals but it’s alarming to hear about the impact practitioners feel it’s having on patient safety.

“It’s more important than ever that we find ways to improve the negative culture within operating theatres and help practitioners maintain the high quality of patient care they expect and strive to provide.”

The independent, anonymous online survey was completed by 712 theatre practitioners from across the UK, all of who stated they were registered healthcare professionals and whose roles fell under the umbrella of operating department practitioners, theatre nurses, scrub nurses, anaesthetists or recovery nurses.

The results constitute phase one of AfPP’s survey analysis, which will be published in three phases as part of their Caring for those who Care campaign.

The campaign, which will look at how best to improve negative cultures within the operating theatre as well raising awareness of the impact on patient safety, will be a core focus for AfPP throughout 2020.