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Health service in Wales faces ‘clear challenges’ on staffing and resources, warn workers

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Nurses in Wales face “clear challenges” around levels of staffing and other resources, according to the latest NHS staff survey for the country.

Around half of health service staff reported that they could not meet all the demands on their time and a similar percentage believed there were not enough staff for them to do their job properly.

“I am very proud of our dedicated staff. These responses really show their commitment”

Vaughan Gething

The results of the 2016 NHS staff survey for Wales were published on Friday, the first time the research has been carried out in the country since 2013.

The Welsh government described the results of the 2016 survey as “positive overall”, but acknowledged that scores had decreased or remained the same since the last survey on some questions.

It said many scores about jobs have seen significant improvements since 2013, with 71% of staff saying they are satisfied with their present job – up from 65% in 2013.

But in its report on the survey results it said scores “around resourcing show some clear challenges”.

While the scores show some improvement over the last three years, the views of staff on questions about staffing levels and time pressures indicate around half still believe both to be problematic.

For example, the report noted that 48% of staff say they cannot meet all the conflicting demands on their time and 49% disagreed that there were enough staff for them to do their job properly.

“There are still some challenges, specifically around resources”

Tina Donnelly

The score for conflicting demands shows no change since 2013, though there has been a slight improvement from 55% on those disagreeing there were enough staff in 2013.

There has also been a small improvement in staff reporting they do not have time to carry out all of their work, down from 48% to 45%.

Meanwhile, around a quarter, 26%, disagreed that they had “adequate materials, supplies and equipment” to do their job, marking an improvement on 39% in 2013.

In addition, the report highlighted that scores about line managers and senior managers had all improved since 2013.

For example, 80% of staff say that their line manager treats them with respect – up from 75% in 2013 – and 61% of staff say that senior managers are committed to patient care – up from 49%.

However, just 29% say that communication between senior managers and staff is effective, while 28% of staff say that senior managers will act on the results of this survey.

Scores on staff’s attitude to change in their organisation have generally improved since 2013, but the results “still show some dissatisfaction”, noted the report.

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For example, 74% of staff say they support the need for change, but only 29% said that change was well managed by their employer.

Almost all of the scores on learning and development have improved since 2013 and there have been “some interesting changes in provision”, said the survey report.

It highlighted that 81% of staff now said they had taken part in e-learning/online training in the last 12 months.

Many scores on health, wellbeing and safety at work have improved since 2013, said the report, but added that there were still “some areas for consideration in many organisations”.

For example, 15% of staff said they had experienced harassment, bullying or abuse at work from their manager/team leader or other colleagues.

Levels of work related stress have improved slightly, but are still high – 28% of staff say that they have been injured or felt unwell as a result of work-related stress during the past 12 months.

Overall, 61% of staff said they would recommend their organisation as a place to work, compared to 48% in 2013, and 68% said they would be happy with the standard of care provided by their organisation if a friend or relative needed treatment, compared to 53% in 2013.

Health secretary for Wales Vaughan Gething said: “I am very proud of our dedicated staff. These responses really show their commitment to their job and the difference they are making to patients in NHS Wales.

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Tina Donnelly

“NHS staff work extremely hard and these results show that they also take a great deal of satisfaction from the work that they do,” he said. “NHS Wales is a great place to work.”

The Royal College of Nursing welcomed the improvements indicated by the survey but added that it “also tells us that there are still some challenges, specifically around resources”.

Tina Donnelly, director of RCN Wales, said: “A key area for development is to enable NHS staff to be able to do their job properly. Staffing is an issue.”

Draft guidance on the implementation of safe staffing legislation in Wales was also published last week. The pioneering Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016 was passed earlier this year.

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