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Dr Zofia Bajorek

The NHS Staff Survey 2013 Results

Authors: Dr Zofia Bajorek Dr Zofia Bajorek

25 February 2014

The NHS Staff Survey results were released today, highlighting mixed results with regards to staff satisfaction levels and their health and wellbeing.  With stories in the press regarding extra staff needed to cover certain wards and NHS Trust deficits , the NHS must make the most out of it’s most important resource – staff.  The results were released on the same day as the ONS revealed that sickness rates are highest for those who work in healthcare.   So, what do the results show, and how can the NHS use them to move forward to improve NHS staff health and wellbeing?

The NHS survey was structured around the 4 pledges of the NHS Constitution, setting out what staff should expect from their NHS employer.  These are:

 1. Providing staff with clear roles and responsibilities and rewarding jobs for teams and individuals that make a difference to patients, their families, carers and communities.
 2. To provide all staff with personal development, access to appropriate education and training for jobs, and line management support to enable them to fulfil their potential.3.
3. To provide support and opportunities for staff to maintain their health, wellbeing and safety.
4. To engage staff in decisions that affect them and the services they provide.  All staff will be empowered to put forward ways to deliver better and safer services for patients and their families.

So, how did the NHS staff respond?

79% of staff reported being satisfied with the support they receive from colleagues and 74% were satisfied with the amount of responsibility they are given.  However, only 41% felt satisfied with the extent to which they felt their organisation values their work.  Worryingly, only 30% of staff felt that there are enough staff to enable them to do their jobs properly – which could lead to increased pressure on staff, and can have negative implications for the quality of care and service that patients receive.

With regards to personal development, training and line manager support, 84% of staff had received an appraisal, of which 54% reported it had helped them to improve their job.  Health and safety training and infection control were the most commonly reported training programmes attended, however, there has been an increase in those attending training in how to deliver good patient/service user experience (49%).  It is recognised that line manager support is important to maintain the employment relationship, and 69% reported support with difficult tasks and 57% felt they had clear feedback.  For me, this indicates that improvement must be made with regards to how line managers engage with their staff.

In my opinion, the most worrying results from the survey are in relation to the health and wellbeing of NHS staff.  Only 44% reported that their organisation took positive action on health and wellbeing.   68% reported that they had attended work in the last three months despite not being well enough to perform duties (huge implications for patient care and how this affects the workload of other staff).  Of those who had attended work when unwell, 32% felt under pressure from their manager and 91% said they put themselves under their own pressure to attend.  To me, this indicates that pressures to improve staff absence levels, has led to presenteeism, which can be more costly in terms of reduced productivity than staff absence.  Additionally, 39% of staff reported feeling unwell as a result of work related stress (rising from last year), highlighting the need for NHS staff to implement appropriate health and wellbeing strategies.

Finally, Only 30% of staff felt that managers involve staff in important decisions and only 36% reported that communication between managers and staff is effective.  If staff are asked for feedback, only 28% reported that senior managers act upon it.  This has worrying implications for staff engagement and the development of ‘good work’ in the NHS. 

The NHS has a responsibility to provide its staff with a high-quality working environment.  However, these results show that there is a lot of learning still to be done.  The NHS relies on its staff to perform high quality care, yet, there is seemingly a worrying deficit in strategies to help improve the health and wellbeing of NHS staff.  This has consequences for both the individual, the team in which they work, and the patient.   Yes, the NHS is a system under pressure, and we must be thankful to the staff who are engaged with their role and provide the necessary care.  But the NHS must begin to focus on improving  the work environment to ensure that standards can be maintained.

Comments in Chronological Order (Total 2 Comments)


25 Feb 2014 9:50PM

been working in an operating theatre which is so badly designed I get severe back shoulder and neck pain after working in there.Told managers numerous times now threatened with sickness procedures.I feel totally helpless with my situation,Im a hard worker,not a shirker.How bad can the NHS treat its employees ?


21 Sep 2014 6:52PM

With cuts taking place the pressure on staff is increasingly very stressful. I work in admin and until recently we had another admin member of staff who left. That position has not even been advertised and it's common knowledge that it won't be for quite some time, if ever, to save money.
We were at times, struggling when there were 2 of us, in part due to the workload from a member of staff who no longer works for our department. I raised my concerns about how I would deal with this on my own, I was told that, the person is 'partially funded' by our department and I would have to continue taking care of that work. Yet the person sees patients at another site where they have 3 admin to deal with the necessary admin duties and works for a different trust. Managers do not care one iota about the pressure they put on staff, saving money is all that counts. Since I have to be in the office at all times to greet patients and open the security doors to let them in, I am lucky to get a 15 to 20 min break at lunch, never mind take time off if I'm sick! I would have to be literally incapacitated to take time off, because there is nobody else to do my job. I'm watching the NHS crumble before my eyes and staff needs being completely dismissed and ignored.