Horrible Bosses working in NHS mental health units

V from Milleniallifecrisis recently posed the question: Do you have any stories of horrible bosses? Although there’s many I could mention, I thought I’d tell you about just one.

My manager, Peter, at one of the mental health units I worked on was a miserable so and so at the best of times but he always saved his worst for me. Unfortunately for him, I had more CPD courses under my belt, which enabled me to provide a wide range of different treatment therapies for our clients. I was also able to offer lots of group therapies, which meant more patients had access to talking therapy, relaxation, visualisation etc. (note that I swing between patients and clients – this always depended on the latest trends and which department you worked in).

I was also sent specialist referrals from the Consultants on each ward, asking me to offer a particular therapy (CBT for Schizophrenia, in particular) for individual clients, which really p’d him off.

The Trust CEO, who I’d met many times, was visiting our ward one day and she asked how my sons were so we had a brief chat and shared a giggle or two. When she’d gone, he was apoplectic – yelling “why are you speaking with the CEO? That’s my job, not yours. Who do you think you are? Do you want my job or something?” Although I didn’t think I needed an excuse, I told him she’d engaged me in conversation and asked why shouldn’t I be able to talk to her. He was red in the face and his eyes were bulging as he spluttered and spat something incomprehensible when he stormed away to his office, giving the door an almighty kick.

Peter was moody in general but at least he acknowledged the other staff on the unit, which didn’t go unnoticed by them. My greetings were completely ignored and he delighted in trying to undermine me in front of our junior staff tho’ I’m not sure why he kept it up, as it normally backfired on him and everyone ended up sniggering.

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I worked in HR for many years prior to becoming a mental health nurse and the skills I’d gained from HR were easily transferrable to my current job, something else for him to hate.

Still, whenever he had a difficult audit or report to complete he’d pass it on to me, knowing the job would be completed quickly and accurately. Then he’d pass the results off as his own. Neither of us were keen on presentations at high levels but he’d have me do them for Head Office conferences while he sat there, arms folded, smirking at me, almost willing me to trip up and make a fool of myself.

Then he’d ask me awkward questions throughout the presentation, trying to unnerve me and put me off. I’d ask him to wait until the end as his question would be answered in due course or I’d ask the audience “Would anyone like to answer Peter?” and generally someone would. As people applauded, he’d take to the stage and say “I’ve been working on this for weeks so I thought I’d let Nancy present it to you so she can get to grips with it all. He didn’t even realise, he was only actually making a fool of himself.

I tried to approach him many times about his behaviour but he denied there was a problem and even said, despite NMC guidelines to the contrary, “I don’t have to engage in chit chat with you, I’m your boss and I just have to tell you what to do.”

In the end, all I could do was put in a formal complaint, but that’s another post.

Have you ever had to complain about a horrible boss? Both V from Milleniallifecrisis and I would love to know this and how you dealt with it.

Author: mentalhealth360.uk

Mum to two amazing sons. Following recovery from a lengthy psychotic episode, depression, anxiety and anorexia, I decided to train as a Mental Health Nurse and worked successfully in various settings before becoming a Ward Manager. I am a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and a Mental Health Awareness Trainer, Mental Health First Aid Youth and Mental Health Armed Forces Instructor. Just started my mental health from the other side blog.

19 thoughts on “Horrible Bosses working in NHS mental health units”

  1. Wow, Peter sounds like a real piece of work! I hate people like that!

    I did have some bad bosses once. They were a married couple who owned the private reading clinic where I taught reading. They seemed nice, but in reality, they were insufferable snobs who liked to be subtly intimidating. Like, the husband would make random jokes about how he was “in charge of the hiring and the firing,” as if that isn’t a loaded comment. At one staff meeting, they yelled at a coworker of mine for messing around on his device. But as it turns out, he was using his stylus to take notes on what they were saying. (And he said as much, and they laughed it off; but I thought they should’ve addressed it later instead of potentially humiliating him.)

  2. The horror! ‘I’m your boss and I tell you what to do’, well isn’t that the shittiest thing to say/think.
    I discovered something about horrific bosses, they don’t like you to do some extra’s (like your HR knowledge), they need you to stay in your lane and be replaceble when needed.

    When I told my boss about my difficulties with stressmanagement, I got the answer: ‘I know what you to every day’. And that was it.

    They don’t see you as a human being but on the other hand they are allowed to ‘offload’ on you (work, tasks, emotions, remarks). When there is no balance, it won’t work!

    1. The sad thing is Kacha – like keeping you in lane so you can’t overtake them – they could do with the help but they just think you’re out to get their job. If he had any sense, he’d use my skills for the good of the patients and the team. Other than him, it was a great team and patients loved the place.

      1. o the ego … 🎈
        Glad the place was good for patients and the team. And I’m also very glad you were capable to use your skills in direct benefit of the people there. That is the most important!

  3. You summed it up nicely – he took his own failings out on other people. I’d like to think he didn’t last long, but people like that generally get promoted out of the way.
    In my business, managers couldn’t have behaved like that – employees would have walked and sooner or later, it would have been noticed.

    1. Some years after my ‘failed’ complaint, he got moved down and out of the way. I’d been medically retired by then so I never did find out why?? I know what you mean about other businesses not allowing it – only this was the NHS – it’s almost impossible to fire someone as they nearly always get away with stuff!! Caz

      1. Yep, my wife is NHS even now and I’ve, er, had my own dealings with it! You could put a lot of it down to funding, but certainly not everything. I was always in the private sector – you had to take on a lot more responsibility for your actions (or inaction 🙂) but of course the rewards were greater.

  4. He sounds like he was intimidated by your intelligence and the fact you could have easily taken his job! As for trying to take credit for your work that is evil and cowardly. I am pleased you made a formal complaint, what a rotten man.

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