Civility and respect

What is civility and respect?

In its simplest form, civility and respect is about how we treat each other at work. In highly pressurised NHS systems, behaviours of incivility and disrespect can become common place. People report that bullying and harassment is prevalent in the NHS, and this rude and unkind behaviour can have a detrimental impact on staff wellbeing and patient care.

This type of uncivil and disrespectful behaviour is unacceptable.  It is unprofessional and unnecessary, and has no place in our NHS.

The NHS Long Term Plan recognises that levels of bullying and harassment must come down if the NHS is to achieve its aim of becoming the best place of work and being an employer of excellence.

The People Plan for 2020/21 sets a vision which places a compassionate and inclusive culture at the very heart of the NHS and emphasises that all NHS employees and employers are responsible for tackling bullying and harassment and the importance of creating a civil and respectful culture. We know that staff with one or more protected characteristics, for example, disabled, BAME and LGBTQ+ colleagues, are twice as likely to experience bullying and harassment.

Within NHS England and NHS Improvement, the national civility and respect programme aims to support and promote cultures of civility and respect in the NHS, creating positive working environments that are kind, compassionate and inclusive for all.  The programme uses a preventative approach, with practical resources and evidence-based approaches, to raise awareness of what bullying looks like in the NHS and consider how we can reduce it.

To deliver on the NHS People Plan’s commitment to support trusts in creating a positive workplace culture, the civility and respect programme has developed a practical, flexible and interactive toolkit “Supporting our People: Promoting cultures of Civility and Respect” and additional resources.

Civility and respect tool kit and model hospital resources

Learning resources

  • Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust have developed four Just and Learning Culture Online modules which are free for all of NHS colleagues to access.
  • These modules are aimed to support local learning at practitioner, HR and Policy, Board and Leadership levels. ​
    • Module 1 – Introduction to ‘Just and Learning Culture’​
    • Module 2 – HR and Policy in a ‘Just and Learning Culture’​
    • Module 3 – Board and Leadership in a ‘Just and Learning Culture’​
    • Module 4 – Respect and Civility Awareness​

Guidance and policies

  • Guidance on commissioning external consultants to review bullying and harassment in NHS organisations.  this a briefing paper that provides guidance for Trusts when commissioning external reviews into bullying and harassment.

For more information, please contact the Civility and Respect team via email: