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The 2016 NHS Staff Survey is published today showing another year of improvements, with NHS staff engagement scores at their highest level in five years.
The survey was carried out between September and December 2016 across 316 NHS organisations garnering 423,000 staff responses, an increase of 124,000 more people participating than last year. This takes in views from about a third of the NHS workforce and is the biggest response achieved in the survey’s 14-year history.
It finds that 80% of frontline NHS say they are able to do their job to a standard they are personally pleased with, 90% of staff say their job makes a difference for patients, and 92% of staff feel trusted to do their jobs.
Across 32 key findings, over 80% were more positive than last year. Overall staff engagement has risen from 3.68 out of 5 in 2012 up to 3.79 out of 5 last year. 75% of staff say they are able to make suggestions to improve the work of their team. And 90% of staff now feel their organisation takes positive action on health and well-being. The percentage of staff witnessing potentially harmful incidents is at its lowest in five years, at the same time as the percentage of staff able to report those concerns is at its highest in six years.
The survey also shows areas of staff concern. 52% of staff are satisfied with the opportunities for flexible working. Feeling unwell as a result of work-related stress is at its lowest reported level in five years, but still stands at 36.7%. 11.9% of staff say they have experienced discrimination at work, a figure which has fluctuated around that same level over the past five years. 15% of staff report they have experienced physical violence from patients, relatives or members of the public – unchanged since 2012.
Speaking at the UK Health and Wellbeing at Work conference in Birmingham today, Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “Perhaps surprisingly given the well understood pressures, it’s encouraging to see that frontline NHS staff say their experience at work continues to improve, with overall employee engagement scores at a five year high. There’s still much to be done to ensure staff are properly supported, and local NHS employers are now being incentivised to better support the health and wellbeing of their own staff.”
The survey is produced as a resource to NHS trusts and commissioners to help them improve staff experience. The Care Quality Commission will use the results to help make sure essential safety and quality standards are met and NHS Improvement also looks at the findings to identify variation between organisations focus and help them focus on areas needing attention. NHS England runs a number of programmes to address any issues at national level.
Obtaining feedback from staff, and taking account of their views and priorities, is vital for driving real service improvements in the NHS.
Taking part in the survey is mandatory for all NHS Trusts – foundation trusts, acute and specialist hospital trusts, ambulance service trusts, mental health, community and learning disability trusts – but voluntary for other parts of the NHS such as clinical commissioning groups, social enterprises and commissioning support units.
Variations are seen between different types of NHS Trusts in the results of the survey. For example in Ambulance Trusts 75% of staff reported receiving an appraisal – a significant rise from 64% in 2015 – whereas it is as high as 90% of staff in community trusts and combined mental health/learning disability and community trusts.
Neil Churchill, Director of Patient experience at NHS England, said: “Staff are working extremely hard to put patients first and it is vital that we support them effectively. These results show that the NHS is acting on what both patients and staff say and improving as a result, though we also have to be alert to stress, discrimination and harassment. NHS employers can now build on the progress they have made, supporting our staff to provide the best possible care for patients.”
For the full survey results, please visit the NHS Staff Survey website.