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The NHS Staff Survey shows resolve in the face of pressure on services

The annual NHS Staff Survey shows growing pressure on those working in the NHS, but also that the vast majority of staff remain positive about their work and the service they provide.

Over 255,000 staff responded to the confidential survey and its results were published by NHS England today.

Commenting on the survey results, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said:

“Anyone exploring these findings each year will appreciate the tremendous resilience of NHS organisations and their staff. However, the results this year show staff reporting increased pressure because of significant challenges facing the health service.

“The variation in staff experience remains a real concern and in December the major national organisations signed a staff experience pledge, committing to improve this vital area. The NHS welcomes the commitments being made by all the political parties to invest in the NHS, but also accepts that it must do more to involve and engage staff in finding solutions to the challenges facing their services.

“NHS Employers will continue to support NHS organisations with a range of resources including those related to the physical and mental wellbeing of staff, as well as staff engagement and diversity.”

Other key findings include:

  • Two thirds (68 per cent) of staff feel able to contribute to improvements.
  • Two thirds (68 per cent) of staff would feel safe to raise concerns.
  • Staff do feel under greater work pressure (score increased from 3.06 to 3.09 in one year).

Response to the findings from Picker Institute Europe, the not-for profit organisation who run and co-ordinate the national survey programme

Results from the 2014 NHS Staff Survey, portray a service striving to provide good patient care – but struggling to deliver with tight resources.

The survey shows that the NHS is continuing to improve its focus on patient care: 67% of staff said that this was their organisation’s top priority in 2014, compared to 66% last year and only 62% in 2012. But despite this positive focus, less than two thirds of staff would be happy with the standard of care provided by their organisation if a friend or relative needed treatment there (down from 65% in 2013, but still an improvement from the 63% recorded in 2012). This measure is strongly related to patient experiences of care, so the fall is concerning.

As well as looking at the quality of care, the survey asks about staff experiences of the NHS as a place of work. Results for some key questions on job satisfaction have declined. Only 56% of staff would recommend their organisation as a place to work (down from 58% in 2013), and only two in five (41%) feel that their organisation values their work. It is clear that staff are feeling the pressure of tight resources: less than a third think there are enough staff for them to do their jobs properly (29%, down from 30% in 2013). And, tellingly, the proportion satisfied with their level of pay has fallen by 5% points – from 38% in 2013 to 33% in 2014. This is the first drop in satisfaction with pay, which has otherwise remained steady, since 2011.

It is encouraging that the proportion of staff reporting feeling pressure to attend work whilst feeling unwell has fallen markedly, from 68% in 2013 to 65% this year. Despite this drop, though, it remains a concern that almost two in three staff members report attending work in the past three months despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties. And for the second year running there has been a small but significant increase in the proportion of staff feeling unwell due to work related stress in the last twelve months (39%).

Commenting on the results, Dr Andrew McCulloch, the Picker Institute’s Chief Executive, said: “The NHS Staff Survey is the most comprehensive source of evidence on the experiences and views of the 1.2 million people working for the NHS in England. This year’s survey is the largest ever and the results are enlightening. Staff and employers alike are committed to providing good patient care. But there are clear issues about the standards that the service is able to deliver: staff appear all too conscious of the financial pressures, and for the first time in recent years there was real evidence of concerns about pay beginning to bite.”

Dr McCulloch continued: “Evidence shows that there is a relationship between staff experience in the NHS and the quality of care patients’ experience. For the service to deliver world class care to its users, it first needs to ensure its staff are well looked after. We call on the leaders of all NHS organisations to review their own staff survey results in detail and work with staff to identify and enact action plans to improve people’s experiences.”


Source: NHS Employers and Picker Institute Europe