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

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.

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