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Third of NHS staff have seen patient safety 'near miss'

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A third of NHS staff have witnessed “near misses” or errors in the last month that could harm patients, new figures show.

The NHS staff survey for 2013 reveals 29% of all staff and a third (33%) of those working in acute hospital trusts said they had “witnessed potentially harmful errors, near misses or incidents” in the last month, although 90% reported them.

The poll also found that while 65% of all staff would be happy to recommend the care on offer at their NHS trust (up 2% on the previous year), the rest would not.

Some 24% said they neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement: “If a friend or relative needed treatment I would be happy with the standard of care provided by this organisation.” A further 11% said they disagreed.

Overall, 12 trusts had fewer than half of staff agreeing with the statement. They included three trusts currently in special measures.

At the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust and North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, just 40% of staff agreed with the statement. At Croydon Health Services Trust, 41% did so, as did 43% at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust.

At United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, 44% agreed, as did 47% at Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals Trust and Medway Trust.

The highest percentage of staff saying they would recommend the level of care was at Papworth Hospital Trust, where 94% of staff agreed with the statement.

The poll, of 203,000 staff, found improvements in 21 out of the 28 categories when compared to the previous year.

Some 90% of staff believed their job makes a difference to patients, 78% were satisfied with the quality of work and patient care they are able to deliver, and 68% said in their role they are able to contribute improvements to the organisation.

The average score out of five for how engaged staff are with their organisation was 3.71, which has increased from 3.68 in 2012.

But 71% of staff said they work extra hours, while 38% have suffered work-related stress in the last 12 months.

Only 56% of staff said handwashing materials − such as soap − are always available, with the figure being 59% in acute hospital trusts.

Some 15% have been the victim of violence in the last year from visitors, patients or relatives, 28% had been bullied or abused by the same group, and 11% suffered workplace discrimination.

A quarter (25%) feel under pressure to go to work when they are unwell, rising to 27% in acute hospital trusts.

“We are also pleased that employers have worked hard to create a climate where staff feel able to raise concerns”

Sue Covill

Sue Covill, director of employment services for the NHS Employers organisation, said trusts would be encouraged by improvements across the board.

She said: “Staff feeling valued and being valued is absolutely vital to the effective delivery of patient care and we believe it is an important factor behind many of the positive results.

“It is telling that after all the negativity of the NHS during the past year, over 90% of staff said their role makes a difference to patients, with almost seven out of 10 able to make a positive difference to service improvements,” she said.

She added: “We are also pleased that employers have worked hard to create a climate where staff feel able to raise concerns. It’s been over a year since the second Francis report was published, so it is encouraging that staff have confidence in reporting their concerns and know how to do so.

“However, some tough issues remain and employers will be working with their staff to review their local survey results and to focus on further improvements. In particular, abuse and harassment of staff from patients and the public is a concern and more needs to be done to protect staff.”


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