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Latest NHS staff survey paints a 'worrying' picture, says RCN

Culture change will not happen without a valued workforce says RCN policy head

The latest survey results showing how NHS workers view the service are a ‘body blow’ which could hamper culture change, according to the RCN’s head of policy.

Howard Catton was responding to the publication today (Tuesday, February 23) of the 13th annual NHS staff survey which was carried out in the last quarter of 2015 by NHS England.

A total of 299,000 members of staff at 297 organisations – about a quarter of the permanent NHS workforce in England – took part.

The findings included:

  • Nearly half (48%) of respondents felt there are not enough staff at their organisation
  • 39% are satisfied with the quality of care they provide to patients
  • Only 37% are satisfied with their level of pay
  • Less than half (42%) were satisfied with the extent to which their work was valued by their organisation
  • Only 38% agreed communication between senior management and staff was effective
  • A third of respondents reported having work-related stress in the past 12 months

Mr Catton said: ‘Looking at these findings I’m seeing staff feeling undervalued, not recognised for their efforts, not having enough colleagues and basically not being able to give the level of patient care they want to give.

‘The picture that it paints is a very worrying one and appears to be a body blow to the culture change which I do genuinely believe senior figures in the health service want to achieve.

‘We know there are serious challenges facing the health service in terms of finances and demand and the only way to meet those is with a fully recognised, valued, engaged and energised workforce who know their views matter and their voices are heard.’

Mr Catton feels issues including health secretary Jeremy Hunt forcing new contracts on junior doctors and government plans to scrap the nursing bursary will not help improve results in 2016 and could even mean ‘they deteriorate further'.

Participation in the survey is mandatory for all NHS trusts – including acute and specialist hospitals, mental health, community and learning disability trusts, and ambulance services – but voluntary for clinical commissioning groups and social enterprises.

More positive findings include 89% of staff agreeing their employers take positive action on employee health and wellbeing.

Meanwhile, 73% of staff said that patient care is their organisation’s top priority – up from 67% last year.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the feedback showed ‘encouraging signs’ but also ‘continuing warning signs’.

He added: ‘The best NHS employers know that staff wellbeing and high quality patient care are two sides of the same coin.’

NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer added: ‘The variation in staff experience across the NHS remains a real concern for employers, and boards [of NHS organisations] will want to do more to address this.’

Read the survey results here

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