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Half of NHS staff are working unpaid overtime and the majority want to leave their role

“These pressures are not just a matter for staff themselves but have a knock-on effect on patients too.”

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Hospital Corridor

The NHS Staff Survey results have revealed an “alarming downturn” in staff wellbeing that will harm patient care.

Published earlier this week, the results of the NHS Staff Survey reveal that nearly 60% of NHS staff are working unpaid extra hours on a weekly basis – with this figure being highest in the community.

The survey, based on responses from 497,000 employees of England’s 230 NHS trusts, is one of the largest workforce surveys in the world and has been conducted every year since 2003

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Experts claim the results demonstrate an “alarming downturn” in staff wellbeing after an increasing number of doctors, nurses and other staff said they felt disillusioned, were working unpaid overtime and are thinking about quitting altogether.

As many as 40% of staff reported feeling unwell as a result of work-related stress in the last 12 months and the overall measure of health and wellbeing has declined.

Over a quarter of staff reported seeing an error, near miss or incident in the last month that could have hurt patients or service users.

Most alarmingly, over half of staff are thinking about leaving their current role and 21% want to quit the NHS altogether.

‘Increased risk of patient harm’.

The Royal College of Nursing says the government needs to double-down on its efforts to recruit and retain staff.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Acting Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “When close to a third of staff are thinking of going, the Government and NHS England must listen and redouble efforts to keep staff in post as well finding thousands of new recruits.

“Half of all staff have raised low staffing levels as an issue, more are saying they are working unpaid overtime to keep the service running and increasing numbers report seeing errors that could harm patients. These are all indicative of a health service with a cavernous gap between the number of staff it has, and what it actually needs to meet demand.

‘With tens of thousands of nursing posts empty, what’s needed is targeted investment of at least £1bn in nursing higher education to increase supply as well as legislation that guarantees the right number of nurses and nursing support staff with the right skills to provide safe and effective care.”

‘An Alarming Downturn’.

Prof John Appleby, the chief economist at the Nuffield Trust thinktank, said: “After years of holding up against all the odds, today’s figures confirm an alarming downturn in the wellbeing of hardworking NHS staff. As many as 40% of staff reported feeling unwell as a result of work-related stress in the last 12 months and the overall measure of health and wellbeing has declined. Both of these are the worst results in the last 5 years.

“These pressures are not just a matter for staff themselves but have a knock-on effect on patients too. Satisfaction in the quality of care that staff feel they can provide is continuing to decline and the proportion of staff who saw something that could have hurt patients has risen to 28%. This could be in part down to increased awareness and better reporting, but it is still a worrying sign and offers an insight into the heavy burden that many staff carry during their shifts. 

“It is encouraging to see that satisfaction within ambulance trusts, traditionally one of the poorest rated services in this survey, is showing signs of improvements on previous years. However, this continues to be an uphill struggle to reach the same levels as other NHS staff.”

Workforce

Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk

It can be “dangerous” when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.

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Patient Falls Risk with IV

There are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone.

NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The College says a global shortage of nurses alongside the removal of the nursing bursary has compounded this figure which now sees 12% of posts through the NHS in England without a full-time Registered Nurse.

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Figures from the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 29% overall decline in applications to undergraduate courses since 2015, when the bursary was cut by the Government.

In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the Royal College of Nursing outlines the evidence of the need for a new law that allocates specific legal responsibilities for workforce planning and supply.

A new law is needed.

The report states that in order to address the record number of vacancies, and the gap between the numbers of health and care staff needed to deliver patient care vs. how many are in the system.

Figures included in the report reveal that the number of nursing staff has consistently failed to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for services and the number of emergency admissions.

The report finally makes a further call for legal clarity on the roles, responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, for workforce planning and supply.

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the Government for clarity over who is accountable for the nursing workforce.

‘Nurses are working harder than ever’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in.

“We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

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Workforce

NHS calls for clarity on who is accountable for the nursing workforce

Figures suggest there are around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England.

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Working nurses in the CCU

Healthcare leaders are calling for legislation to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have called on the Government to clarify who is accountable for the nursing workforce and the chronic problems it’s currently facing.

Following ongoing pressure from nursing unions, the two organisations met today and recommend that the government should “revisit with partners whether national responsibilities and duties in relation to workforce functions are sufficiently clear.”

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With around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England and thousands more throughout social care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should be legally accountable for the workforce.

Along with other health care leaders, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, written to the Government calling for the legislation proposed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

Staff shortages have reached ‘alarming levels’.

Responding to the news, Dame Donna Kinnair said: “We are pleased that NHS England and NHS Improvement has recognised the concerns of RCN members and the public and has stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.”

“In the week after we have launched a major public facing campaign calling for investment in the nursing workforce as well as for accountability to be clarified in the law, yet again, the case is made for this to be taken seriously.

“We are clear that government is well placed to determine how accountability can be clarified in law.

Adding; “Staff shortages have reached alarming levels with at least 40,000 vacant registered nurse posts in the NHS in England alone with thousands more vacancies in public health and social care.

“We now hope government will listen to this message, as well as the voices of the thousands of members that responded to the NHS England engagement process, and bring forward this legislation, taking the opportunity to include accountability in government and throughout the health and care system, for workforce planning and supply.”

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