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NHS staff report stress, violence and dissatisfaction with pay

Long-term investment in NHS needed, say employers

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 06 March 2018

Over a third of NHS staff report work-related stress, one in six have experienced violence, and pay satisfaction has plummeted.

These are amongst the findings reported in the 2017 NHS Staff Survey, published today.

The survey shows staff are feeling the pressure, although they do say they are better supported by their NHS managers.

The survey reveals more than four out of five (81%) are satisfied with the quality of care they give to patients, and nine out of 10 feel their organisation takes positive action on health and well-being.

However, among the areas of concern highlighted by the research, almost one in six members of staff (15%) report that they have experienced physical violence from patients, relatives or members of the public.

The number satisfied with their pay fell to 31% down 6% on 2016, and around a third of staff (38%) said that they had experienced work-related stress over the last 12 months, up 1.6% on the previous year but slightly down on five years ago.

Moreover, some 8% of staff say they have experienced discrimination from colleagues.
The survey did reveal better satisfaction with the support staff received from their managers. This increased for the fifth year in a row to almost seven out of 10 (68%). Fewer staff also feel pressured by managers or colleagues to come to work when they are ill and fewer staff are working unpaid hours.

Commenting, Neil Churchill, director of patient experience at NHS England, said: “Staff are going above and beyond to deliver the best care under pressure and these results show that staff appreciate the efforts of managers to listen, support and act on staff concerns. Never-the-less, there are warning signs NHS employers will need to do all they can to ensure the NHS supports our staff to deliver the high standards expected by patients.”

NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer said: “Employers in the NHS have been anticipating worsening results from this most recent survey and sadly their concerns have been reflected in the outcome.

“The country needs to take these challenging results seriously. We cannot expect staff to absorb additional work pressures year on year without it having an adverse effect on their experience of work. A long-term solution to sustainable investment in the NHS – and other vital public services – is clearly required.”

The survey was carried out between September and December 2017 across 309 NHS organisations garnering 485,000 staff responses, an increase of 64,000 and an increase of 21% in responses from BME staff. This takes in views from about a third of the NHS workforce and is the biggest response achieved in the survey’s 15-year history.

Responding to the NHS staff survey published today, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “These new figures reflect the reality faced by doctors who are working under impossible conditions with widespread staff shortages, a lack of capacity in their workplaces and a chronically underfunded NHS.

“It is clear from this survey that despite immense pressures, NHS staff continue to go above and beyond, often working long past the end of exhausting shifts without additional pay, with nearly four in 10 reporting work-related stress in the past year. Over half have ignored their own health concerns and turn up to work when unwell. Heavy workloads often lead to stress and burnout which can compound recruitment and retention problems.

“Doctors working under these pressures and enduring work related ill health cannot be good for patient care. We are calling on politicians to act now - we urgently need a long-term solution to the staffing and funding pressures facing the NHS, otherwise it simply won’t be able to provide the safe and high-quality care that patients deserve and that doctors want to deliver.”

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