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NHS staff morale improving, but many still face abuse

12:00am | & News

The latest annual survey of staff working in the NHS has found that more are now happier in their roles, but too many are still experiencing unacceptable abuse from some patients and members of the public.

Around 569,000 NHS employees across 300 separate organisations responded to the 2019 NHS Staff Survey, with the results showing staff morale has improved across the NHS.

Staff also reported that the quality of care in the NHS has improved over the past year, with more than seven in 10 saying they would recommend their organisation to family and friends for treatment – a proportion which has increased every year for the past five years.

More than four-fifths of staff said they were happy with the quality of care they give to patients, and the proportion of staff saying they were able to deliver the care they aspire to was at its highest recorded level.

Commenting on the results, NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “It’s welcome news that according to over half-a-million NHS employees, staff morale is now improving and patient safety scores are now at a five year high.”

More staff reported that their manager encourages them at work, that strains on working relationships have reduced and that staff are less likely to want to quit the NHS compared to 2018. But more than one in four respondents (28.5%) said they had experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from patients, relatives or members of the public.

Almost one in seven (14.9%) experienced physical violence, and almost 40,000 (7.2%) of those who responded said they faced discrimination from patients over the past year – up from 5.8% in 2015. Racism was the most common form of discrimination, but 2019 also saw the highest levels of reported sexism and intolerance of religion and sexuality.

The new figures come as NHS leaders confirmed that from April, NHS services will be able to protect staff by barring from non-emergency care any patient or visitor who inflicts discriminatory or harassing behaviour on staff. Previously, individual NHS organisations could only refuse services to patients if they were aggressive or violent.

Sir Simon added: “While teams across the country are under real pressure, NHS staff consistently go the extra mile for patients. So as a country we need to show the same commitment to them, which is why we’re determined to clamp down on abuse and aggression in all its forms.”

For the fifth year running, the percentage of staff reporting that their managers take a positive interest in their health and wellbeing rose, growing from 66% in 2015 to 70% last year. More staff are also satisfied with flexible working options and fewer report working unpaid overtime.

Prerana Issar, Chief People Officer for the NHS, said: “Taking care of and valuing our staff is at the heart of our ambition to make the NHS the best place to work, so I am delighted that managers are increasingly taking an active interest in the health and wellbeing of their teams.

“Creating a healthy, inclusive and compassionate culture is paramount to delivering the care patients expect. It is not acceptable that our NHS people experience any form of discrimination from patients or the public at work.”

You can read the results of the 2019 NHS Staff Survey in greater depth by clicking here.

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