UNDERSTAFFING is contributing to a rise in bullying of nurses and midwives, the country's largest union has claimed.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), which has launched a survey into bullying of its members, said it is now dealing with around 25-30 cases at a time.
Prof Maura Sheehan of NUI Galway, who is conducting the survey, said focus groups of nurses found shocking and very disturbing levels of bullying.
"The focus groups that my study colleague, Dr TJ McCabe at the National College of Ireland, has held with nurses and midwives in Ireland about their experiences with bullying were shocking and very disturbing," she said at the launch of the study.
"As researchers, it became clear that we need to conduct a survey of nurses and midwives to establish the extent of this problem and, most importantly, to formulate recommendations on how bullying at work can be reduced and the types of support that victims and witnesses need."
Researchers called on nurses and midwives working in Ireland to respond to their survey.
Industrial relations director Phil Ni Sheaghdha said the union wanted to find out what was driving the upsurge of investigations in which it was currently involved, and said they believed there were links to staffing levels and the general busy high-stress work environment.
The union said the Health Service Executive does operate a policy on bullying and harassment in the workplace but nurses and midwives continue to experience workplace bullying.
The survey will be available on the INMO's website www.inmo.ie starting on June 1 for a month. The union said input from nurses and midwives was critical to the success of this study, which was completely anonymous.