26 February, 2019

News > More must be done to support NHS staff under strain

The results of the 2018 NHS Staff Survey, published today, show that staff remain engaged in the face of rising pressures. Close to half a million staff gave their view on their experience of working in the NHS; more than ever before in the history of the survey.

Some elements of staff engagement have improved since last year. This has included positive changes in the proportion of staff who would recommend their organisation. In 2018, 62% of staff said that they would recommend their organisation as a place to work – up from 60% in 2017. Similarly, 71% of staff say they would recommend their organisation as a place to receive treatment (up from 70% in 2017, and from 65% in 2014).

Some of the biggest improvements related to staff feeling recognised and valued by their organisations. There was a 4 percentage point increase in the proportion of staff saying that they were satisfied with the recognition for good work, and a 3 percentage point increase saying they felt satisfied with the extent to which their organisation values their work. However, despite the positive increases this still equates to less than half of staff (46%) saying they were satisfied with the extent to which their organisation values their work. Also, just 56% of staff reported that they were satisfied with the level of recognition for good work.

Despite the improvements observed in engagement and staff recognition, the 2018 results highlight that there is still a considerable amount of pressure and stress facing staff, with one in three reporting that they often or always have unrealistic time pressures (33%). Two in five staff (40%) say that they felt unwell as a result of work related stress in the last 12 months, an increase from 38% in 2017 and 37% in 2016.

Chris Graham CEO of Picker, said

“With the Staff Survey showing that NHS staff are under strain, NHS England’s commitment to “improving the working lives of all staff over the next few years and beyond” in the Long Term Plan (p.78) is particularly important.”

“Attention will be needed to arrest the decline in results around health and wellbeing. Only 29% of staff felt that their organisation definitely took positive action on health and wellbeing – a drop of more than three percentage points since 2017. More must be done to support staff and help them manage the pressures they face in their roles.”

The survey also includes a number of questions around equality, diversity and inclusion. The proportion of staff that agree the NHS provides equal opportunities for career progression or promotion (83%) has been declining since 2014 (86%).There remains a large disparity between white and BAME staff: 86% of white staff agree that there are equal opportunities for career progression or promotion compared with only 70% of BAME staff. This is important as recent research from Picker using data from the NHS Staff Survey highlights that equal opportunities for career progression is the best predictor of job satisfaction for NHS staff.

Chris Graham added:

“The NHS Staff Survey is one of the most important sources of data about the NHS, its workforce, and its performance. Today’s results are based on nearly half a million responses and provide powerful evidence about the challenges facing NHS employees. To meet the goals set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, it will be vital for organisations to find further ways to support their staff and ensure equality. Overcoming these challenges will not be easy, but is critical for retaining and developing the workforce.”

_ENDS_

Notes for Editors


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