The results of the 2017 NHS Staff Survey reveal that staff feel under pressure, despite continuing to deliver excellent standards of care.

Findings of the survey include:

  • More than four out of five (81%) are satisfied with the quality of care they give to patients – although this level has remained constant for the last three years
  • Nine out of 10 staff feel their organisation takes positive action on health and well-being
  • Almost one in six members of staff (15%) said they have experienced physical violence from patients, relatives or members of the public
  • The number satisfied with their pay fell to 31% (down 6% on 2016).
  • Around a third of staff, 38%, said that they had experienced work related stress over the last 12 months, up 1.6% on the previous year but slightly down on five years ago.
  • Some 8% of staff say they have experienced discrimination from colleagues
  • The number who said they were happy with the support they receive from their manager increased for the fifth year in a row to almost seven out of 10 (68%). Fewer staff also feel pressured by managers or colleagues to come to work when they are ill and fewer staff are working unpaid hours
  • However, despite improvement, it was still felt senior managers neither acted on staff feedback (32%), or tried to involve staff in important decisions (33%).

The survey was carried out between September and December 2017 across 309 NHS organisations garnering 485,000 staff responses, an increase of 64,000 and an increase of 21% in responses from BME staff. This takes in views from about a third of the NHS workforce and is the biggest response achieved in the survey’s 15-year history.

The survey is produced as a resource to NHS trusts and commissioners to help them improve staff experience. The Care Quality Commission will use the results to help make sure safety and quality standards are being met and NHS Improvement also looks at the findings which reveal significant variation between individual trusts, so helping them focus on areas needing attention. NHS England also runs a number of programmes to address issues at national level.

Variations are also seen between different types of NHS trusts in the results of the survey. Ambulance Trusts continued to report the lowest employee engagement scores.

Neil Churchill, Director of Patient experience at NHS England, said: “Staff are going above and beyond to deliver the best care under pressure and these results show that staff appreciate the efforts of managers to listen, support and act on staff concerns. Nevertheless there are warning signs NHS employers will need to do all they can to ensure the NHS supports our staff to deliver the high standards expected by patients.”

Danny Mortimer, NHS Employers Chief Executive, called the results challenging, and warned that they show that staff cannot absorb further work pressures.

“Employers in the NHS have been anticipating worsening results from this most recent survey and sadly their concerns have been reflected in the outcome.

“The country needs to take these challenging results seriously. We cannot expect staff to absorb additional work pressures year on year without it having an adverse effect on their experience of work. A long-term solution to sustainable investment in the NHS – and other vital public services – is clearly required.

“It’s disappointing but understandable that staff are less satisfied with the standard of care they are able to provide and that they are feeling more stressed.

“I am however encouraged that staff continue to be willing to recommend the NHS as a place to be cared for.

“The fact that more staff feel their managers and organisations support their health and wellbeing is positive and is a result of longstanding efforts by employers to address workplace health issues. The increasing focus on supporting staff through mental health issues is clearly having a positive impact and we are keen to share the lessons learnt from the NHS with other employers.”