Date Published: 4 October 2006

UK Healthcare watchdog urges staff to take part to help improve care for patients

Healthcare watchdog urges staff to take part to help improve care for patients

The Healthcare Commission is launching the NHS Staff Survey for 2006, giving staff a chance to have their voices heard about what it is like working in the NHS.

The Healthcare Commission’s annual survey, in its fourth year, is the largest of its kind and this year’s data collection will be taking place from October to December. This year also gives staff the opportunity to give their views on Agenda for Change.

Staff views given in the survey are used by the Healthcare Commission, the Department of Health and NHS Trusts to inform local and national changes in working conditions and practices. The findings also enable management to make changes that will help the NHS to become as good an employer as possible and encourage the provision of good working conditions for staff. This in turn ensures a higher quality of care for patients.

Anna Walker, Chief Executive of the Healthcare Commission, said:

The annual staff survey is a vital tool in our efforts to improve the NHS for both patients and staff. This year we hope to have a record response rate and so increase the voice of local NHS staff still further. Staff attitudes, experiences and working environment naturally affect organisational outcomes – and in the NHS this includes the quality of care patients receive.

_ Results from this survey will be used by trusts to deliver local improvements in working conditions and practices. Similarly, as the results can be broken down by occupational group, specific staff groups can easily confirm the problems they face which need to be addressed by the NHS. I hope therefore NHS staff will seize this opportunity to shape their own future.

With over 209,000 staff in 570 NHS trusts taking part in the 2005 survey, meaningful analysis can be done to look at the experiences of different occupational groups within the NHS.

Some of the key findings shown by the occupational group data from the 2005 survey responses included:

  • Nurses (in particular, midwives, learning disability nurses and mental health nurses) were the most likely staff group to have experienced work-related stress in the past year
  • Take-up of flexible working options was highest among allied health professionals, admin& clerical staff and general managers, while ambulance staff were the least likely staff group within the NHS to think that their employer was committed to offering them a good work life balance
  • Ambulance staff were the most likely of all NHS staff to experience work-related injury and the most likely to experience physical violence or bullying, harassment or abuse
  • Learning disability nurses and healthcare assistants in mental health trusts were among the most likely NHS staff groups to have experienced violence at work including bullying, harassment or abuse from patients or their relatives in the past 12 months.

As the survey takes place annually, trends in issues showing improvements or deteriorations in staff experience can be identified. The Healthcare Commission also uses the survey data to assess compliance against the Department of Health core standards, this year in the new Annual Health Check.

Between 600 and 850 staff in each NHS Trust will be chosen at random to participate in the 4th annual National NHS Staff Survey and their contribution is vital to ensuring that the NHS improves as an employer.


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