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NHS Staff Survey shows worsening pay and conditions are taking their toll on staff

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Unisons say that wage freezes and woeful pay rises below the rate of inflation have now taken their toll on NHS staff.

The NHS Staff Survey is the largest workforce survey in the world and has been conducted every year since 2003 and it asks NHS staff about their experiences of working for the NHS.

Staff, overall, said they were unhappy with the quality of work and care they are able to deliver – primarily due to underfunding and poor staffing levels. 

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Key figures from the survey include;

  • Only 31% of staff were satisfied with their level of pay.
  • 58% of staff worked additional unpaid hours.
  • 38% of staff reported feeling unwell due to work-related stress but 53% of staff attended work despite feeling unwell because they felt pressure from their manager or colleagues.
  • 29% of staff witnessed potentially harmful errors, near misses or incidents.
  • 15% of staff experienced physical violence from patients, relatives or the public but only 72% of cases were reported.
  • 28.0% of staff experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from patients, relatives with on 49% of cases being reported.

UNISON has said that it is a ‘disgrace’ that the government is relying on the goodwill of overworked staff to prop up the NHS.

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Sara Gorton, Head of UNISON Health, said:

“It’s clear that wage freezes, and woeful pay rises below the rate of inflation, have taken their toll on NHS staff.

“If this isn’t addressed, the NHS is going to haemorrhage more staff. This not only puts further pressure on the remaining nurses, healthcare assistants and other NHS colleagues, but also ultimately affects patient care and safety.

“Then there’s the continuing shame that over 80,000 people working in the NHS in England earn wages that are below the Living Wage.

“The government has an opportunity to turn this situation around and fund a decent pay settlement for health staff this year.

“It will also come as no surprise to the public to hear that NHS staff are regularly doing unpaid overtime. It’s a disgrace that the government is relying on the good will of overworked staff to prop up the NHS.”

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretery of the RCN, said:

“These figures bear out the warnings from frontline nurses – patient care standards are heading in the wrong direction and nursing staff will not accept it. But it also reveals the sharpest ever rise in dissatisfaction with pay, now standing at 45 per cent of the workforce – up by more than 7 percentage points in a single year. It is a timely reminder for the Chancellor that years of unfair pay deals have taken their toll and a meaningful rise is long overdue.

“When two-thirds of NHS workers say they cannot do their job properly due to understaffing, Ministers and the NHS must listen. Safe and effective staffing levels are crucial – standards of patient care rise and fall along with the number nurses on duty. Patients can pay the highest price when levels fall too low – legislation is needed to ensure accountability.

“More than half of NHS staff report working unpaid overtime every single week. Ministers must stop treating the goodwill and dedication of NHS staff as a replacement for adequate funding and proper workforce planning. Continuing down this path is unfair, and untenable.

“Violence against NHS staff reached a five-year high and Ministers must take the opportunity to act when the Violence Against Emergency Workers Bill comes back to Parliament next month. It ensures those who attack NHS staff get the penalties they deserve.”

The NHS Pay Review Body is set to provide it’s recommendations on pay for 2018-2018 later this month.

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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