2016 NHS staff survey shows improvement in many areas

policy digest

28 / 03 / 2017

NHS Staff Survey
NHS England, March 2017

The 2016 NHS Staff Survey involved 316 NHS organisations in England. Over 982,000 NHS staff were invited to participate using an online or postal self-completion questionnaire. This was a big increase in numbers surveyed due to many more organisations deciding to survey all their staff. 

Over 423,000 NHS staff responded, a response rate of 44 per cent (compared to 41 per cent in 2015). The survey is one of the largest exercises in seeking staff feedback in the UK. The survey covers a wide range of questions on staff experience, people management practices and staff opinion on patient care. The survey took place between September and December 2016 and was published on 8 March. 

Of the 33 key findings, 24 improved and there were notable improvements in measures of staff engagement, quality of appraisal and staff confidence in organisational action on health and wellbeing. Staff confidence in ability to report concerns about clinical practice also increased. The overall willingness of staff to recommend the NHS as place to work or be treated improved from 3.72 to 3.75 (on a five point scale).

The survey showed that there continued be very high levels of reported stress on NHS staff with 37 per cent reporting that that they had felt unwell due to work related stress. Levels of bullying and harassment also remained unacceptably high with 24 per cent of staff reporting that they had experienced an incidence of bullying, harassment or abuse. Survey data also continued to show inequalities within the NHS and scores on confidence in the delivery of equalities worsened. 

On patient care indicators there was a mixed picture. Seven out of ten staff reported that they would recommend their organisation as a place to be treated. There were concerns over rising demand. For example 37 per cent felt there were insufficient staff to provide a proper service (a score which was stable from 2015) and only three out of ten felt they were able to give the care they aspired to. By contrast, 51 per cent said they felt that their Trust made effective use of patient feedback and 73 per cent felt it responded to concerns of users. These scores were up slightly on 2015.

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