NHS staff satisfaction levels fall amid warnings over patient care

NHS staff in England are reporting lower satisfaction with the quality of work and care they are able to deliver, a major new survey has found.

The 2017 NHS staff survey – the largest workforce survey in the world – found that 66.8 per cent of staff agreed or strongly agreed that they are able to deliver the care they aspire to, down from 68.2 per cent in 2016.

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The poll of more than 400,000 NHS workers found that 81.2 per cent said they were satisfied with the quality of care they give to patients, down from 82.7 per cent in 2016. Just 31 per cent agreed that there were enough staff in their organisation to enable them to do their job properly.

And only 31 per cent said they were satisfied with their pay, down from 37 per cent the previous year. Staff also reported higher rates of feeling unwell due to work-related stress.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, which represents employers in the health service, said: “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. It’s disappointing but understandable that staff are less satisfied with the standard of care they are able to provide and that they are feeling more stressed.”

At Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, 32 per cent of workers agreed there were enough staff to do their jobs properly.

Improvements made by the Leeds trust since the 2016 staff survey included the percentage of staff reporting incidents and near-misses and the number feeling under pressure to attend work when they felt unwell.

Dean Royles, the trust’s director of organisational development, said: “We will continue to listen to our staff, trade unions and to our patients and visitors so that we can continue to improve.” At Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS, 59 per cent of employees would recommend the organisation as a place to work and 31 per cent said there were enough staff.

The trust said it improved its score in most parts of the survey.

Simon Nearney, director of workforce and organisational development, said: “These are 
challenging times and our staff are working tirelessly to maintain safe and effective care for a growing number of people each year.”

The national poll, carried out on behalf of NHS England, found that three quarters of staff were enthusiastic about their job and seven in 10 said that if a friend or relative needed treatment, they would be happy with the standard of care provided by their organisation.

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.

“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.”

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “These figures bear out the warnings from nurses on the NHS front line.

“Patient care standards are heading in the wrong direction and nursing staff will not accept it.

“But it also reveals the sharpest of all rises in dissatisfaction with pay, now standing at 45 per cent of the workforce, up by more than seven per cent in a single year.”