Promoting partnership working in the NHS

NHS Staff Survey 2019

The Social Partnership Forum (SPF) made the following response to the 2019 NHS Staff Survey results, published 18 February 2020.

The annual NHS Staff Survey gives a snapshot of how it feels to work in the NHS. SPF partners welcome the increasing number of staff completing the survey (497,117 – 46 per cent in 2018 to 569,440 – 48 per cent in 2019) as it makes the results more comprehensive.  The survey provides incredibly useful information on staff experience and can really help NHS organisations identify and address issues in partnership.

There are eleven key themes which provide the top-level results for the survey and 2019 shows a mix of progress and challenges with five of the eleven themes improving: immediate managers, morale, quality of appraisal, quality of care and safety culture. The scores for the other key themes remain unchanged compared to 2018.

The SPF acknowledge the continued pressure that NHS staff and teams are working under and recognise the great job that staff are doing.  Partners are encouraged to see that has been a marked reduction in staff thinking about leaving the organisation (2018: 29.9 per cent to 2019: 28.4 per cent), and, reassuringly the improvement in overall willingness of staff to recommend the NHS as a good place to work.

It is of course positive that there is progress on key people management indicators such as line management relationships and quality of appraisal. SPF partners are however, concerned there are no improvement in measures on bullying or harassment as this has been a key area of focus of the SPF since 2017, although they are encouraged by improved rates of reporting of bullying (2015: 44.7 per cent to 2019: 48.6 per cent), as this would be expected with increased focus and awareness raising on an issue.  SPF partners understand that bullying and harassment is deep rooted in systems and organisations, and to reduce levels requires cultural issues to be addressed. Therefore, the SPF  will continue its programme of work to support a culture of civility and respect, providing the system with tools and resources to support improvements, and hope that future surveys will start to reflect this work. 

More worryingly more staff are experiencing violence from the public (2018: 14.6 per cent to 2019 14.9 per cent), although reporting has improved from 70 to 72 per cent. The SPF has raised concern about the high and increasing levels of violence experienced by NHS staff.  The issue will be a focus for SPF work again in 2020, with partners contributing to the NHS violence reduction strategy. This new, zero-tolerance approach aims to protect the NHS workforce against deliberate violence and aggression from patients, their families and the public, and to ensure offenders are punished quickly and effectively. It follows the commitment made in 2018 by Secretary of State Matt Hancock that violence will not be accepted as part of the job for NHS staff. Partners look forward also to the updating of guidance for those situations where aggression is as a result of reduced capacity or a clinical condition.

Read what Sue Covill director of development and employment at NHS Employers had to say about the staff survey results.

Read what Matt Hancock, secretary of state  for Health and Social Care wrote to all NHS staff February 2020 following the staff survey results.