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NHS staff happier with their places of work

But harassment, bullying or abuse from patients, relatives or the public still rife

Mark Gould

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Over 200,000 NHS staff took part in the latest National NHS Staff Survey which reveals some improvements in levels of staff engagement and more people reporting that they are happy with the standards of care provided by their organisations.

Over two thirds (69%) reported that they were enthusiastic about their job and the same number were happy with the standard of care provided by their organisation if a friend or relative needed treatment. Some 90% of staff also agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that they feel their role makes a difference to patients.

Whilst over two thirds of staff (65%) report that they get support from their immediate line manager and 79% report that they are satisfied with the support they receive from colleagues, a significant proportion of staff (29.2%) report having experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from patients, relatives or the public. This is a small decrease on the previous year (29.9%) but NHS England says it "clearly remains an area of concern".

Overall, 85% (86% in 2012) of all staff felt encouraged by their organisation to report errors, near misses and incidents. Only 14% of all staff felt that reporting of errors would lead to punishment or blaming of those involved. Sixty-three percent of staff felt that incident reporting was handled confidentially, while 62% (up from 61% in 2012) thought that action was taken to prevent similar errors occurring in the future.

Although reporting rates were high, the percentage of staff that felt informed about errors, near misses or incidents was 44% (42% in 2012), and staff who felt that they were given feedback on changes made as a result of errors, near misses and incidents remains low being 44%, showing a slight improvement since 2012.

Other key findings:

  • There continues to be an improvement in the proportion of staff receiving appraisals, up from 82% in the 2012 survey to 84% in 2013, however only 38% of staff said these appraisals were well structured (36% in 2012).
  • Only 41% of all staff were satisfied with the extent to which they felt that their trust values their work; this figure is lowest for ambulance staff at 21% (23% in 2012) and highest amongst CCGs at 65%.
  • The proportion of staff who indicated that they would recommend their organisation as a place to work has increased from 55% in 2012 to 58% in 2013.
  • Only 36% said that communication between senior managers and staff is effective - this figure is the lowest for ambulance staff (19%) - and less than a third of all NHS staff (28%) reported that senior managers act on feedback from staff. Despite this, 74% said that they are able to make suggestions on how they could improve the work of their team or department.
  • Fifteen percent of NHS staff reported experiencing physical violence from patients, their relatives or other members of the public in the previous 12 months and 29% of all staff report that they experienced bullying, harassment and abuse from patients, their relatives or other members of the public in the previous 12 months. Just under two-thirds (64%) of incidents of physical violence and 43% of bullying, harassment and abuse cases were reported.

Neil Churchill, head of patient experience at NHS England, said:

“Overall, the figures paint a picture of a system holding up well under pressure, with improvements being made in key areas such as staff engagement, appraisal and a willingness to recommend services to friends and family. It is good to see that staff are clear about their roles in delivering patient-centred care but we have further to go in ensuring that we address staff feedback about the factors which help or hinder them from consistently providing great patient experience.

"The introduction of the Friends and Family Test for all staff from 1 April is an important step forward and will enable us to track issues and improvements in real time, which will ultimately enhance patient care.”

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