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NHS staff receiving better support from managers but still under pressure

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7 March 2018

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NHS staff receive slightly better support from their managers than last year but feel under greater pressure, a survey of the NHS workforce has revealed.

The 2017 NHS Staff Survey, published yearly since 2003, gathered the responses of some 487,227 NHS staff from 309 organisations in England between October and December 2017.

Almost seven out of ten respondents (68%) said their manager took an interest in their health and well-being, marginally up from 67% in 2016, the survey showed.

NHS staff receive slightly better support from their managers than last year but feel under greater pressure, a survey of the NHS workforce has revealed.

The 2017 NHS Staff Survey, published yearly since 2003, gathered the responses of some 487,227 NHS staff from 309 organisations in England between October and December 2017.

Almost seven out of ten respondents (68%) said their manager took an interest in their health and well-being, marginally up from 67% in 2016, the survey showed.

Staff satisfaction towards their line manager went up 1% since last year and has increased for the fifth year in a row.

Despite this, an increasing number of NHS staff feel under pressure from their managers and other colleagues.

Over half (53%) of staff surveyed reported that they felt pressured by their managers and colleagues to go to work when they were sick in the past three months, according to the survey – which was published yesterday (6 March).

This represents a small increase compared with last year's figure (51.9%), but a positive longer term trend when compared to 2013, when 58.2% of respondents gave an affermative answer to the survey question.

Key figures from the survey:

  • 67% of staff‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ they can deliver the care they aspire to (down 1.4% since 2016)
  • 31% ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that there are enough staff at their organisation for them to do their job properly (down 0.2% since 2016)
  • 38% felt unwell due to work related stress in the last 12 months (up 2% since 2016)
  • 72% of staff reported working extra hours (down 0.2% since 2016)
  • 58% are working additional unpaid hours (down 0.8% since 2016)
  • 87% of staff reported having an appraisal in the last 12 months (1% up since 2016)

The news comes as data by NHS Digital released last week found that the NHS had employed over 13,000 managers since 2016, while the number of nurses fell in the same period.

‘Warning signs’

Director of patient experience at NHS England Neil Churchill 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.

‘Nevertheless 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.

In fact, staff are reporting lower levels of satisfaction with the quality of care they provide and are less pleased with their pay since 2016, the survey found.

‘Challenging results’

Commenting on the NHS Staff Survey figures, NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer said: ‘The country needs to take these challenging results seriously. A long-term solution to sustainable investment in the NHS – and other vital public services – is clearly required.

‘The fact that more staff feel their managers and organisations support their health and wellbeing is positive and is a result of longstanding efforts by employers to address workplace health issues.’

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