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CNO says senior nurses do 'fight the profession's corner'

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Chief nursing officer for England Dame Christine Beasley has reassured nurses that their views are being taken seriously at board level, following the publication of results from the latest NHS staff survey.

The survey results for 2008, revealed last week, were on the whole positive, with staff reporting many improvements on the previous year (see below).

However, a quarter of staff said that senior managers did not act on feedback – a question not included in the survey in previous years.

Last week, as revealed by Nursing Times, nurses said that Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust had failed to provide feedback on incident reporting forms, with the forms seeming to disappear into a ‘black hole’.

Dame Christine defended the overall quality of leadership shown by senior nurses, telling Nursing Times that they were supporting their more junior colleagues at board level.

‘The staff saying that they have rewarding jobs demonstrates that we have some senior nurses who are able to argue their corner,’ she said.

In addition, although latest NHS workforce figures show an increase in the majority of nursing groups, the staff survey findings showed that nurses and midwives were the most over-worked of NHS staff.

Nurses scored higher than any other staff group, including doctors, on a ‘work demand’ score, which estimates how much pressure staffing groups are under on average. Nurses had an average score of 3.28 compared with 3.06 for doctors.

Within the nursing category, health visitors had the highest work demand score at 3.59 followed by midwives at 3.54. Both groups have long-standing staffing level problems.

Ms Beasley said: ‘We don’t think that the survey is saying that staffing levels are bad. But where they are bad, directors have to be accountable about the staffing levels that there are.’


Key findings of the 2008 NHS staff survey, completed by 160,000 staff from 390 NHS trusts:
* 71% of staff ‘always’ had access to handwashing equipment (up from 61% in 2007)
* 47% said there were not enough staff to do the job properly (down from 51% in 2007)
* 31% of staff do not feel valued by their trust (down from 36% in 2007)
* 26% of staff said senior managers do not act on feedback (not asked in 2007)
* 12% had experienced physical violence from patients or their relatives (down from 13% in 2007)
* 23% reported bullying and harassment from patients (down from 26% in 2007)
* 31% often felt like leaving their trust (down from 36% in 2007)
* 21% thought they would leave their job in the next year (down from 24% in 2007)


What people said about the survey results:


‘There are real lessons to be learnt from this survey about leadership, management and teamwork. Staff feel informed but not involved in decisions that affect their working life and don’t feel valued by their trust. Yet the survey shows that NHS staff are dedicated to their jobs and to their patients’

Healthcare Commission chief executive Anna Walker


‘The ambition for the workforce is that they have what is needed to deliver high-quality care. These results are the best ever and the substantial improvements in staff satisfaction reported this year gives us confidence that this ambition is achievable’

Clare Chapman, director of NHS workforce


‘The staff survey is a good barometer of the way that the NHS is running. NHS employers need to listen to staff and must act when they are told they do not have enough time or people to do their jobs properly and deliver quality patient care’

Karen Jennings, Unison’s head of health


‘This survey shows that nine out of ten staff feel that they are able to make a difference to patients, and this is why people choose to come into nursing. It is particularly positive that more staff are reporting that they have been trained in infection control’

RCN general secretary Peter Carter


‘Overall, progress seems to have been made in a number of important areas. One area that does cause real concern is the findings that show that, while the vast majority of staff think they make a difference to the welfare of patients, 31% do not feel valued by the trust’

Karen Ray, Unite National Officer for Health

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