The National Quarterly Pulse Survey

Staff engagement has been researched in detail over the last few decades and has been proven to have strong links with positive organisational and individual outcomes. The Staff Experience and Engagement team at NHS England and NHS Improvement conducted recent research where employee engagement components, in particular involvement, were shown to have positive correlation with lower patient mortality, lower sickness levels and lower patient complaints. This follows on from a suite of studies over recent years by academics and the Kings Fund, specific to the health care setting.

The People Plan 2020/21- action for us all makes a commitment to introduce a new quarterly survey. The survey supports an integral part of the People Promise: “We each have a voice that counts”. It will provide insight into the working experience of our NHS People more regularly, in a consistent approach, to support actions for improvement.

The National Quarterly Pulse Survey (NQPS)) has been implemented from April 2021, replacing the Staff Friends and Family Test (Staff FFT) which had previously been carried out since April 2014. During Quarter 1 2021/22 only organisations which subscribe to the national pulse survey, the People Pulse, participated in the NQPS.

Organisations are expected to implement the National Quarterly Pulse Survey in July 2021.  Organisations which are unable to implement for quarter two 2021/22 can start data collection from the first month of quarter four (January 2022).  The National Staff Survey will take place in quarter three 2021/22.

The National Quarterly Pulse Survey is to be implemented in all NHS trusts providing acute, community, ambulance, and mental health services in England.

The aim is for all staff to have the opportunity to feed back their views on their organisation every quarter. Organisations will be required to collect data in Quarter 1, 2 and 4. There is no requirement to collect National Quarterly Pulse Survey data during Quarter 3 (October), when the annual staff survey is undertaken, although organisations may choose to do so. For the remaining three quarters, during the months of April, July and January, each trust will need to ask all staff the nine engagement theme questions from the annual NHS staff survey.

Recognising that some trusts have well established in house surveys and staff engagement tools, the method of data collection for the National Quarterly Pulse Survey is flexible and can be decided by each Trust.  However, the simplest method is to use is the national People Pulse which has its own online analytics platform. Alternatives are an existing internal survey, or the current Staff Friends and Family Test provider. If a trust chooses to use the national People Pulse, there is no requirement to submit the data as this will be collected centrally. For other methods of data collection, trusts will need to submit the data through the Strategic Data Collection Service, as was the case for the Staff FFT.

Locally, the National Quarterly Pulse Survey results can be published internally and used as soon as they are available to trusts. Trusts using the People Pulse will have the results within four working days after the survey wave closes through the online analytical platform.

The National Quarterly Pulse Survey will support each trust’s employee listening strategy alongside the annual NHS staff survey, and will provide a more regular insight into the working experience of our NHS people.

The key principles of the National Quarterly Pulse Survey, the full guidance for implementation, and a list of frequently asked questions are provided below.

Further information and supporting publications