The General Medical Council, which polled 50,000 doctors over the issue, said there was no place for bullying and undermining of staff but it was “too common” in medical training.
It warned the problem could affect the safety of patients by making doctors in training more reluctant to report concerns.
Now it planned to carry out a series of checks in key specialties. New sanctions on doctors who bully or undermine others will also be published next year.
One doctor who responded to the survey said: “If you get on the wrong side of a consultant it may have a big impact on your future career. I’ve experienced this myself and it definitely makes me think twice about reporting instances of bullying, either locally or to the GMC.”
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: “There is a need to create a culture where bullying of any kind is simply not tolerated.
“Apart from the damage it can do to individual self-confidence, it is likely to make these doctors much more reluctant to raise concerns. They need to feel able to raise the alarm and know that they will be listened to and action taken. We need to develop a supportive culture that actively encourages doctors in training to feel confident in raising concerns at an earlier stage.”
Kitty Mohan, co-chairman of the British Medical Association’s Junior Doctors’ Committee, said the findings were “extremely worrying”.
“Doctors have a duty to speak out about concerns over care, but they need the support of the organisations they work for to feel empowered to do so,” she said.
“It is vitally important that the NHS fosters a culture in which doctors feel able to raise concerns about bad care or bullying.
“If the NHS is to put quality patient care front and centre, and create a working environment in which staff are respected and encouraged rather than bullied and undermined, there needs to be a greater culture of openness and support between management and staff, and confidence that complaints about care or the treatment of staff will be properly acted upon without fear of reprisal.”