Less than two-thirds of staff would be happy to recommend their trust to a friend or relative, according to the latest NHS staff survey.
The 2012 survey, released today, found only 63% of staff would recommend their organisation. More than 100,000 NHS staff completed the survey between mid-September and mid-December 2012.
Only 35% of respondents felt there was “effective communication” between senior managers and staff, and just 26% felt managers acted on feedback received from staff. And only four in every 10 staff felt valued at work, the survey found.
The research, carried out by the Picker Institute, also indicated some unease about whistleblowing: 72% of staff said they would feel safe raising concerns, and just 55% expressed confidence their trust would address those concerns.
By contrast, 68% agreed with the statement “my organisation acts on concerns raised by patients”, with only 7% disagreeing.
On most measures, social enterprise staff were the most positive in their responses and ambulance staff the most negative.
Sara Gorton, Unison deputy head of health, said: “Despite 70% of staff working extra hours it is sad to see that so many feel undervalued by their trust. More worrying still is that only 35% believe communications between staff and senior managers [are] effective.
“Much more work needs to be done to ensure that staff are listened to and their concerns acted on quickly.”
Peter Carter, Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary, said: “Now more than ever, the NHS needs staff who are empowered and supported to give the high quality care their patients deserve. This survey paints a very different picture.
“In struggling to meet their daily demands, more than four in ten nurses said they had suffered from work related stress in the last 12 months. Meanwhile 81% are working extra hours just to get the job done. Unfortunately, the strains of doing this are showing, with more staff reporting being unwell due to stress.
“Shockingly, almost a quarter of nurses also said that they have experienced physical violence from patients, relatives or members of the public in the past year. We are also concerned that only 55% of nurses felt that something would be done if they raised their concerns with managers.”
He added: “Sadly, this survey shows us that things are getting worse, and a picture is being painted of staff under pressure, and patients experiencing frustration and delays.”
Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “The number of midwives reporting that they do not have enough staff to do their job well or give the level of care they want to is a real concern. However, it perhaps should not come as a surprise given that we are short of 5000 midwives in England.
“There is no doubt that the government are increasing the number of midwives but the birthrate continues to rise and an increasing number of the pregnancies are becoming more complicated. Midwife numbers are still playing catch-up after a decade or more of understaffing.
“Midwives are one of the most dissatisfied groups when it comes to job satisfaction. These results show that not only are midwives deeply frustrated by this, but that the service is perhaps too often not offering the quality of care midwives want to deliver and women should expect.”
But NHS Employers chief executive Dean Royles said it was important to note improvements on many scores.
He said in a statement: “It’s a remarkable achievement that staff report improvements in so many areas, crucially including overall levels of patient care.
“Amid all the uncertainties and concerns around the Health and Social Care Bill, efficiency drives, industrial action, pay freezes and pension increases these are a set of good results.”
He added: “They also note that appraisals, staff engagement and job satisfaction have got better and this really is a credit to the effort and skill of [human resources] teams in the NHS and the work they do with staff.”