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National Patient Safety Agency

NCAS holds national workshop aimed at addressing disruptive behaviour in clinical practitioners

31 January 2011


A national educational workshop, hosted by the National Clinical Assessment Service (NCAS) and aimed at helping anyone who deals first-hand with concerns about practitioner behaviour, will take place on 3 February 2011.


The workshop, called Disruptive Behaviour, will focus on understanding the factors that cause difficult behaviour and describe how managers can access and use resources to address these issues. 


A number of keynote speakers, including the Right Honourable Lord Owen, will be addressing over 600 delegates. 


Director of NCAS, Professor Alastair Scotland, said: “This is the biggest educational event in our annual calendar and is part of a wider programme that we provide to share what we have learnt with our colleagues in health care.


“I am delighted that we have speakers of national and international standing who will be addressing around 600 delegates at this year’s event”.


Professor Scotland added: “Concerns about disruptive behaviour in professional practice are among the most complex and difficult to address – and pose challenges to patient safety which can appear almost intractable.   


“However they manifest themselves, they have the potential not only to have a huge impact on patient safety and the quality of care, but also to put enormous pressure on the leadership of any health care organisation, taking them away from the key job of delivering services.   


“At this year’s event, we are focusing on creating better understanding of the factors underlying these difficulties, of how they can be identified earlier and managed more effectively.   And as part of that, we will spend a good deal of our discussion exploring how colleagues in health services can access and use resources to resolve concerns about behaviour as quickly as possible and as close as possible to the practitioner’s workplace.   


“The earlier we can intervene in those concerns, the better it will be for the safety of patients and the protection of the public”. 


Every year, NCAS deals with over 1,000 cases from NHS organisations.  Two-thirds of NCAS cases include presenting concerns about practitioner behaviour, whether on its own or within a wider challenging team or organisational environment. 


NCAS’ research and experience has shown behavioural difficulties may be caused by ill-health, personality factors, culture, concerns about knowledge and skills which may manifest as difficult behaviour, embitterment, clash with managers or a dysfunctional team or culture.   


Often managers find dealing with these issues particularly challenging because the difficult behaviour may mask, alter or otherwise affect understanding of all the causes of practice concerns.   


For more information about this event, which is taking place at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London, please visit:







Notes to editors




The conference will run from 10:15 to 16:45 on Thursday 3 February 2011. 



·        Keynote plenary presentation by The Right Honourable Lord David Owen on the Hubris Syndrome and how it may affect senior clinical professional staff and health service managers, drawing on research that he has done on hubris in politicians.




·        Opening presentation by Dr Jenny King, Director of Edgecumbe Consulting Group Ltd,  Dr Gwen Adshead, Consultant Forensic Psychotherapist of Broadmoor Hospital and Professor Alastair Scotland, Director of NCAS who will provide an overview of the challenges difficult behaviour can present in the NHS.  They will present underpinning evidence on behaviour and personality.




·        Closing presentation by Professor Adrian Furnham of the Psychology Department at University College London who will describe how the very characteristics which allow leaders to be successful can also derail them.




·        Parallel workshop sessions led by experts in this field which will provide opportunities for small group discussion, using case studies and interactive exercises to explore how concerns can be identified, understood and responded to effectively. 




1.   NCAS provides general and specialist advice to help organisations address concerns about the practice of individual dentists, doctors or pharmacists or, in some cases, of practice teams. NCAS also undertakes formal assessment of practitioners.




2.   NCAS is currently a division of the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA). In July 2010, the Department of Health published its review of Arm’s Length Bodies – Liberating the NHS: Report of the arms-length bodies review. Although the report announced abolition of NPSA, it did stipulate that NCAS functions are to continue.  NCAS services will continue to remain free to NHS organisations.




3.  For other information about this press release, please contact Simon Morgan, Senior Communications Manager, on 0207 062 1631/07500 224240 or e-mail smorgan@ncas.nhs.uk