Using a workforce wellbeing survey in primary care

General practices in Norfolk and Waveney are using a survey to gather evidence about how to support staff wellbeing

What we’ve done

Who we are

In Good Health is Norfolk and Waveney’s Integrated Care System (ICS). Our Primary Care Networks are groups of GP practices working with other community, mental health and social care staff to improve services for local people at ‘neighbourhood’ level.

What we did

We are testing whether the Health and Wellbeing Framework can help to improve workforce wellbeing in primary care. We are at an early stage of the process. We are using the Framework as part of a larger project to test whether improving workforce wellbeing will lead to better patient care, measured through improved patient satisfaction with services. A workforce wellbeing survey is a key component.

Three general practices, a Primary Care Network and a commercial organisation with six practices are acting as ‘proof of concept’ sites, alongside other organisations. We are surveying staff and patients at the beginning of the project and again afterwards, to see whether there are any changes in staff wellbeing and patient satisfaction.

Each participating organisation will:

  • encourage staff to take part in a workforce wellbeing survey and receive a report about their results from the ICS
  • take part in two short workshops specifically for their practice to explore wellbeing tools (the Shapes Resilience Toolkit)
  • have four 2-hour coaching sessions for the leadership team
  • access a curated toolkit of around 150 free wellbeing resources for staff through a digital signposting platform
  • have access to the Resilient Team Academy which focusses on developing team resilience, health and wellbeing and productivity

After staff take part in the survey, Practice Managers will complete the Health and Wellbeing Framework’s diagnostic tool to help their practice plan next steps.

What we’ve achieved so far

We developed a bespoke workforce wellbeing survey for primary care, drawing on questions from the NHS Staff Survey and a national primary care health and wellbeing survey so we can benchmark against wider data.

So far about 300 members of the primary care workforce have completed the survey, including from individual general practices, a commercial organisation with practices and the largest Primary Care Network in Norfolk with 21 practices. We found high rates of self-reported burnout (about 60%), with about 40% of people saying they are actively considering leaving their role. Having this type of data provides a sense of urgency to address workforce wellbeing.

“Our staff survey has quantified the issue. The Health and Wellbeing Framework provides the ‘so what’ element – what are we going to do about it? Each practice will use the self-assessment tool to prioritise what to do next.” – ICS representative

“The Framework is well structured and comprehensive but remains daunting in sheer volume. We are mainly using this with small practices that don’t have the capacity to engage fully. It is important to make the material manageable for busy primary care practices.” – ICS representative

What we’ve learnt so far

  • Using the Health and Wellbeing Framework provides structure and rigour, which can aid buy-in from leaders. This is important in general practices, which are individual businesses and often like to see an evidence base. Using the Framework and a staff survey helps to anchor wellbeing in evidence and quantitative data, reducing the perception that wellbeing is ‘fluffy’.
  • Having a sponsor within each organisation is essential, for instance the Chief People Officer, someone from the workforce team or in the case of general practice, a practice manager or partner. This person can promote staff surveys, use the diagnostic tool and engage with staff. Each practice and primary care organisation is different, ranging from single-handed practices to larger practices to multi-practice organisations, so staff needs and experiences are likely to differ within each.
  • It is important to keep things short and easy to digest for busy practices. We found it useful to focus on the first few pages of the Framework documents, which highlight the ‘wellbeing wheel’, rather than a lot of background information. We talked through a condensed overview with the lead contact at each practice and then concentrated on 1-2 key segments of the wheel.