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. Research by the Staff Experience and Engagement team at NHS England recently found that employee engagement components, in particular involvement, have a 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 made a commitment to introduce a new National Quarterly Pulse Survey (NQPS). The survey supports an integral part of the People Promise: “We each have a voice that counts”. Complementing the national employee listening tools, such as the NHS Staff Survey and the People Pulse, the NQPS provides consistent insight into the working experience of our NHS people to support actions for improvement.

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

All NHS trusts providing acute, community, specialist, ambulance, and mental health services in England are now required to participate in NQPS, following a change in the NHS Standard Contract in April 2022.

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 the first month of quarter 1, 2 and 4. There is no requirement to collect NQPS data during quarter 3 (October), when the annual NHS Staff Survey is undertaken, although organisations may choose to do so. For the remaining three quarters (starting April, July and January) each trust will need to ask all their staff the nine engagement themed questions from the annual NHS Staff Survey.

Recognising that some trusts have well-established in-house surveys, the method of data collection for NQPS is flexible and can be decided by each trust. The easiest method, however, is the national People Pulse which is available to use free of charge and provides results within four working days after the survey cycle closes through the online analytical platform. There is no requirement to submit the data either as this is 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 Friends and Family Test.

Locally, NQPS results should be published internally and used as soon as they are available to trusts. Nationally, results will be accessible on this website under ‘NQPS results’ tab at the end of quarters 1, 2 and 4.

NQPS supports each trust’s employee listening strategy alongside the NHS Staff Survey and provides a more regular insight into the working experience of our NHS people.

Read the key principles of the NQPS, full guidance for implementation, and a list of frequently asked questions.