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More staff working extra hours, reveals annual NHS survey


The percentage of health service staff reporting that they are working extra hours has reached a five-year high according to the latest annual survey results published on Tuesday.

The results of the 2015 NHS staff survey, carried out from September to December, show working extra hours has reached a peak. Almost three quarters of NHS staff, 73%, said they work extra hours, up from its lowest level of 64% in 2011.

“This survey paints a picture of an organisation whose staff feel undervalued, underpaid and unable to provide the level of care they would like”

Janet Davies

Sixty-eight per cent of survey respondents said they did not work any paid overtime above their contracted weekly hours, but only 40% of staff said they did not work any unpaid overtime each week.

Almost half of NHS staff disagreed or strongly disagreed that there were enough staff at their organisation for them to do their job properly, while 31% said they were unable to meet conflicting demands on their time.

The percentage of staff seeing potentially harmful errors, near misses or incidents in the last month was at its lowest level for five years at 29%, compared with 33% in 2011, according to the survey findings published by NHS England and the Picker Institute.

However, the percentage of staff reporting potentially harmful errors and near misses has consistently fallen over the past five years to its lowest point in five years from 96% in 2011 to 86%.

When asked whether staff reporting near misses and incidents were treated fairly, 24% agreed this was the case and 37% disagreed.

”The survey highlights areas where more action must be taken, such as work pressure on staff and poor behaviour”

Danny Mortimer

After incidents were reported, only 23% of staff felt action was taken to prevent the error happening again. In addition, only 19% of staff reported that feedback was given by organisation to staff about any changes that had been made in response to the reported error or incident.

The percentage of staff experiencing discrimination at work in the last 12 months was 11%, down 1% on 2014.

A quarter of staff reported experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from colleagues in the last 12 months, an increase of 1% from 2014. However, the survey also revealed significant under-reporting, with the number of staff reporting the most recent incident of bullying dropping by 3% to 38%.

Other findings include:

  • The percentage of staff satisfied with their pay was 37%, up from 33% in 2014
  • A total of 86% of staff reported having an appraisal in the last 12 months
  • Fifty per cent of staff were satisfied with the flexible working opportunities provided by their organisation
  • The overall staff engagement score has increased since 2011 reaching a peak of 3.78, with 58% of staff reporting they often or always look forward to going to work
  • Staff recommendation of their organisation as a place to work or receive treatment has increased since 2014, in line with the trend since 2011. The highest scores were achieved by specialist trusts compare with the lowest score by staff at ambulance trusts

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “This survey paints a picture of an organisation whose staff feel undervalued, underpaid and unable to provide the level of patient care they would like.

“Despite all the rhetoric about the importance of patient safety, NHS staff are still reporting inadequate staffing levels, with only 30% saying that their organisation has enough staff for them to do their job properly,” said Ms Davies.

“As a result, almost two thirds of staff are coming to work despite feeling unable to perform their duties. This would not happen if they did not feel services were stretched to breaking point,” she added.

Janet Davies

Janet Davies

Janet Davies

“These numbers must not be ignored, they must be acted upon,” she said. “It is hardly surprising that so few staff are satisfied with what they earn after years of pay restraint.” 

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said: “The annual survey reflects the commitment of NHS staff to deliver excellent patient care amidst immense pressure and challenges facing the health service.

“I am pleased to see progress in areas such as staff engagement and confidence in raising concerns. The survey also highlights however, areas where more action must be taken, such as work pressure on staff and poor behaviour, including bullying,” he added.

Chris Graham, the Picker Institute’s director of research and policy and chief investigator for the survey, said: “The results of the NHS Staff Survey provide unparalleled insight into the experiences of staff working in the NHS in England.  

“We call on all employers to closely review their results and take action to ensure staff are supported and listened to,” he said. “After all, staff wellbeing is not only important in and of itself, but it is also an essential driver of productivity and patient experience: staff experience cannot and must not be ignored.” 

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This survey spells out what NHS staff tell us all the time, that they love their jobs and want to do the best they can for patients.

“When nine in 10 staff say they go to work when they are ill because they think they should, and 73% work unpaid overtime, there can be no doubting the commitment of our health service staff,” he said.

“However it also reveals that 70% say there are not enough staff to provide that care,” he said. “The NHS staff survey shows it makes no sense to cut NHS funding and put even more pressure on staff.”


Readers' comments (7)

  • Sorry guys but if you work unpaid overtime it really is your own faults!! If payment isn't forthcoming then " throw a sickie" along with the rest! You can't tell me it doesn't happen because it does and on a regular basis.

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  • The salaries are so low most nurses don't have any other options-

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  • exploitation

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  • The percentage of staff satisfied with their pay was 37%, up from 33% in 2014????????!!!! I have not met anyone describing themselves as satisfied with their renumeration, working unpaid overtime to meet patient/service demands which is expected to deliver the service. The majority of staff are committed to delivering the best care possible even if this means giving their own time to patients and the NHS.

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  • 1 March 2016

    SOLUTION: PAY RISE for Pay Bands 2 to 5.

    Put a Cap on Rent.

    Stop Inflation rate.

    Affordable grocery and foods.

    Decrease energy bill and petrol.

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  • That's a really silly comment saying throw a sick day. It's people throwing sick days that causes people genuinely ill to have monitoring. Most of the nurses and nursing assistances I work with work extra, either on the hospital bank or agency work or even both. You just can't manage on a nurses wage especially as a single parent

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  • Maybe we should form a new union that actually empowers nurses, gives them a real voice and acts on its members wishes! Instead of pandering to the government who say one thing and do the opposite.

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