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MAY 23/2014

Are NHS workers satisfied with their jobs and development prospects?

Many NHS hospital staff find their jobs to be extremely personally fulfilling and enriching, due to the life-saving and essential nature of the work they carry out on a daily basis.

Indeed, the desire to really make a difference in the lives of the sick and vulnerable is a key reason why many people enter this industry in the first place. However, the life of an NHS worker is by no means an easy one, as doctors and nurses are placed in positions of considerable responsibility and handed complex, multifaceted workloads.

As such, it is important for employers to keep track of general satisfaction levels among staff, in order to make sure workers are generally happy and fulfilled in their roles. Fortunately, a report from NHS Employers would suggest this is the case.

Positive sentiments prevail
Compiled in association with Picker Europe, the most recent NHS Staff Survey examined trends in attitudes between 2011 and 2013, finding that on the whole, medical professionals tend to be happier now than was the case a few years ago.

The percentage of staff saying they felt satisfied with the quality of work and patient care they are able to deliver rose by six percentage points from 71 per cent to 77 per cent, while the proportion of workers who agreed their jobs made a difference to patients increased by two percentage points to 90 per cent.

Meanwhile, 69 per cent of NHS workers said they feel able to contribute towards improvements at work - up by five percentage points on 2011 - while access to personal development, training and support has improved, with greater availability of well-structured appraisals and equality and diversity training.

It was also revealed that more staff perceive that they are working in a well-structured team environment, while nurses and doctors are also more willing to recommend the trust that employs them as a place to work or receive treatment.

All in all, of the 28 key scores measured in the 2013 report, 21 showed improvement, suggesting the NHS is broadly moving in the right direction.

Room for improvement?
However, the report also revealed a number of areas in which further improvements could be made. The most broad-ranging issue was the fact that there remains a large level of variation between the highest and lowest scores in the survey, suggesting some hospitals are performing significantly worse than their peers on these key measures of staff satisfaction.

It was also revealed that some workers feel compelled to continue working when ill, leading a sizeable percentage to call for staffing levels to be increased in order to reduce workloads and ensure a better standard of care.

Meanwhile, although the majority of staff would know how to raise concerns and would feel safe in doing so, there remains a minority of organisations where this is not the case, while the awareness of how to report concerns worsened slightly.

Given that safe staffing levels and organisational transparency are key priorities for improvement within the health service at the moment, NHS employers are likely to be looking to rectify these shortfalls in the months to come. 

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