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Nurse wellbeing has 'direct impact' on patient care


Levels of satisfaction and wellbeing among NHS staff have a direct impact on patients’ experiences of healthcare, according to a major study by leading UK nurse researchers.  

Investing in staff wellbeing is, therefore, not only important for the nursing workforce but also for quality of care overall, they argue.

The three year study was carried out by the National Nursing Research Unit at King’s College London and Southampton University and aimed to determine which particular staff attitudes and behaviours impacted on patient experiences.

It involved over 200 hours of direct care observation at four trusts – two acute and two in the community – as well as hundreds of interviews and surveys of patients, frontline staff and senior managers.

Glenn Robert, healthcare quality and innovation chair at the NNRU, said the study showed interpersonal relationships with staff were “critical to patient experience”, but the level of such connections was “often poor”.

“Patients want staff to show genuine interest in them as people; to be non-judgemental and competent; continuity of staff enhances levels of trust and the confidence felt by patients that their care needs are fully understood,” he said.

But Professor Robert added: “Staff often reported not being able to deliver the care they wanted to, citing insufficient staffing levels and competing demands on their time as preventing them from delivering the high quality care they wished to give”.

NNRU director and lead study author Jill Maben said the findings were “significant” for proving the importance of staff wellbeing, while acknowledging they might seem obvious to many nurses.

“While it may appear self-evident that patients’ experiences and the quality of health care they receive are influenced by the experiences of the staff providing that care, there was limited UK research that explored this link,” she said.

“This study strongly suggests that patient experiences are better when staff feel they have a good working environment, support from co-workers and their manager and low emotional exhaustion.”

Professor Maben added that the study highlighted the “importance of the team” and the “critical role” of the team leader role in “supporting and nurturing staff and in building a strong climate for patient care”.



Readers' comments (51)

  • tinkerbell

    Do we need a union to decide whether or not we take industrial action, anyone know the answer?

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  • tinkerbell

    cos' i'm fed up with waiting for them to do something about this devastation of our nursing profession.

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  • I think this research is good practice for a student first steps into doing research.
    Its easy and you cannot go wrong as common sense tells you so.
    It can also be valuable for stupid people who don't know better.

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  • this is research? three years seems to be an awful long time and only 200 hours were actually spent observing nurses, the rest was collating paperwork. the evidence was always there, any nurse in any hospital will tell you that they are completely stressed out, any OH department in any hospital can supply figures and show examples of work related stress and how it affects care.

    anyone who has either sat in on a disciplinary hearing or been the subject of one will tell you that stress, over-work, depression, lack of support all contribute to errors being made.

    any GP will tell you that there has been a significant rise in stress related illnesses amongst health workers.

    any caring patient and relative will tell you how they see the nurses rushing around, there are never enough of them, they don't know how they manage and there are even those who criticise the media for all the spiteful things they say about the staff.

    if nurses are under-par then the care they give is going to be under-par but nothing will change, it never does because we are just expected to put up and shut up.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 18-Nov-2012 9:51 am

    Exactly, but i am remaining optimistic that the tide is about to turn and that we are getting the wind in our sails to take ACTION, i am just unsure when the unions will be balloting their members and can we take action without them if they don't.

    Anyone know the answer please?

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 17-Nov-2012 2:42 pm

    I don't disagree with you - but there isn't an unlimited amount of funding for research, and there is not an infinite number of researchers.

    The NHS/HC seems to spend quite a lot of time, proving things are true, when in reality any proof that they were untrue would strike one as so weird that one would tend to look very closely at the methodology employed, instead of believing the result.

    Although this isn't scientific - so as someone with a science doctorate I shouldn't really say it - there are some things that seem so blindingly obvious, that spending a lot of time, effort and perhaps money proving them, seems to be the wrong approach.

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  • This type of research needs to be done...after all, we are in an "Evidence-Based" profession. It may well prove what every single nurse knows but at least it is now, technically, on record rather than just being verbally said.
    Having said that, I do not see how it will make the slightest bit of difference mainly due to the fact that NHS Trust bosses already know that reducing front-line staff affects patient care and yet are choosing to carry on with job cuts anyway. Why? because Finances have become the only thing that concerns them now..patient care and safety are fast becoming an afterthought or not a thought at all. This has been born out by the CQC and their critical findings on some Trusts (my Trusts was forced to take on more nurses after the CQC noted that the large number of nursing staff cuts have dangerously endangered patient safety).
    Where do we take this research? Government? Trust Bosses? The Conservative/Lib Dem Government don't give a damn about the NHS....they would use this research as another tool to argue that privatisation is necessary; NHS bosses would just ignore it and carry on; Unions would say all the right things about it (We have said it all along, this is a travesty, staff cuts must stop etc) and then ultimately do nothing as they are toothless. And if neither Government or the NHS Bosses won't listen, then who is left?

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  • tinkerbell

    WE are left! We take it to the streets, we organise rallys' we raise our media profile y organising the press to be there we are are marching, if this feckless government are out to destroy nursing, if the unions are taking our union fees for doing feck all, then only we are left to do it for US and OUR patients.

    We can do this, we just ALL have to agree and work out a united strategy across the UK. Anyone up for the job? Seriously.

    Do we agree?

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  • DH Agent - as if ! | 18-Nov-2012 12:12 pm

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  • DH Agent - as if ! | 18-Nov-2012 12:12 pm

    The NNRU is an independent body. It is not run by the NHS.

    The NNRU researchers came up with a study proposal which THEY (as nurses) felt was very relevant to nurses and patients, designed the study, campaigned to various organisations for the funding and went about gathering good quality, robust evidence to back the conclusions reached. The methodology will stand up to any scrutiny, and questioning the integrity of the study is rather cheap.

    A government may choose to ignore proven evidence, but that does not make it less true nor should it ever be used as an excuse not to carry out the research in the first place. It most certainly beats the pants off the anecdotal evidence of nurses who moan constantly (with good reason), but then do nothing to change their situation or move the status of their profession forward. If you are going to argue your position, it is always more than a little handy to have evidence to back it up. This is one set of nursing colleagues who have actually got off their backsides and done something.

    As a non-nurse, you probably don't see the value of the research. However, as someone who claims to possess a doctorate, your reasoning baffles me.

    The question now is whether or not nurses and their unions take this research on board to help their cause.

    Anonymous | 18-Nov-2012 9:51 am

    "this is research?"

    Yes, it is. The same stringent and necessary protocols and governance that are applied to all research were applied to this study. Ethics approval alone, to allow the study to commence, can take months, designing the study, going cap-in-hand to a variety of sources for funding, writing protocols (often sent back several times before they are finally approved), recruiting participants, carrying out the study, ensuring that data is clean and of good quality, producing study conclusions, etc must be done within strict guidelines and scrutiny. Also, due to the nature of research work, be assured that all the researchers were involved in other research programmes and studies running concurrently.

    tinkerbell | 18-Nov-2012 1:25 pm

    "WE are left!"

    Precisely, Tinkerbell.

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