Bullying is a pervasive problem in healthcare organisations. Inquiries and reports on patient care and poor practice in the NHS have emphasised the substantial negative effects this behaviour may have on patient care. If bullying is to be addressed, it is crucial we develop clarity about what behaviours constitute bullying and how these behaviours differ from other negative behaviours in the workplace. It is important that we recognise the extent of the problem; statistics on the prevalence of bullying are likely to be an underestimate because of under-reporting of bullying. Effective interventions may only be designed and implemented if there is knowledge about what precipitates bullying and the magnitude of the changes required in organisations to tackle bullying. Individuals should also be aware of the options that are available to them should they be the target of bullying behaviour and what they should do if they witness bullying in their workplace.