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Nurses feel unable to communicate with managers

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Only 28 per cent of nurses say there is good communication between senior management and staff at their trust, according to results from the 2009 staff survey.

This lack of engagement between ward and board is also reflected in the fact that 35 per cent of nurses in the survey felt unable to contribute towards improvements at work, despite initiatives, such as the Productive Ward, intended to enable the nursing profession to find ways of improving efficiency in their working environment.

The overall findings of the latest NHS staff survey were published by the Care Quality Commission last week. The CQC has provided Nursing Times with a breakdown of the findings specifically relating to nursing staff.

The nursing figures showed more nurses had an appraisal than staff in general (72 versus 69 per cent).  While these were the best ever appraisal rates recorded in the seven years of the survey, only 34 per cent of nurses felt their appraisal was “well structured”.

Unison deputy head of health Mike Jackson warned that any improvements on appraisals and training must be “locked in” so they were not reversed when the NHS became under more pressure.

He said: “When funding is tight there is a real danger that this is seen as a soft option for cuts. This can have a long-term impact on morale and productivity and is a key area where more progress needs to be made.”

The overall survey also revealed that 76 per cent of staff had attended work in the previous three months when they felt unwell, with 28 per cent feeling under pressure from their manager and 21 per cent from other colleagues to attend.

Royal College of Nursing executive director of nursing and service delivery Janet Davies noted that the high numbers of staff attending work when unwell would “have an inevitable impact on patient care”.

Unsurprisingly the figures revealed that nurses had experienced higher levels of physical violence from patients over the past 12 months than staff in general (18 per cent versus 11 per cent). Nurses had also experienced more harassment and bullying from patients than staff overall (29 per cent versus 21 per cent), and more work related stress than staff in general (32 per cent versus 28 per cent). 

The 2009 NHS staff survey was carried out between September and December, with responses received from 156,951 NHS staff.

Health minister Ann Keen said: “We know that staff experience links directly to patient experience and I encourage all NHS trusts to use the staff survey as an essential tool to improve the quality of care.”

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