Promoting partnership working in the NHS

NHS Staff Survey 2016

The Social Partnership Forum (SPF) made the following statement in response to the results of the 2016 NHS Staff Survey, published 7 March 2017.

Members of the SPF acknowledge the pressures that staff are working under and the tough times the system is facing, but also recognise the great job that staff are doing, and are pleased to see that the 2016 NHS Staff Survey results show, that staff feel more engaged in the work they do and feel better valued by their managers and organisation. A higher percentage of staff 75 per cent, as compared to 69.8 per cent in 2015 responded that they were able to contribute towards improvements at work and that there are frequent opportunities for them to show initiative in their role. The overall engagement score for 2016 has increased from 3.71 out of 5 in 2014 to a peak score of 3.79.  Staff engagement is a key element needed to help the NHS meet the range of challenges that it faces. By involving staff in decisions and communicating clearly with them, organisations can seek to maintain and improve staff morale, especially during periods of difficulty and change. Organisations with highly engaged staff have lower absence levels, reduced turnover and provide better care.

Over half of all staff, 59 per cent, reported that they look forward to going to work, with 74 per cent of staff feeling enthusiastic about their job, however the survey also shows a high proportion of staff 71.8 per cent report doing additional unpaid hours (although this is down slightly from 72.7 per cent in 2015).

A real area of focus and concern for the SPF is the high percentage of staff experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from staff in the last 12 months. Despite a decrease in 2016 to 24.1 per cent from 24.8 per cent in 2015, this remains at an unacceptable level, with one in eight staff (13 per cent) reporting that they have experienced harassment or bullying from their manager one or more times. A slightly higher proportion of staff (18 per cent) reported experiencing harassment or bullying from other colleagues on one or more occasion.  Bullying can have serious consequences for affected individuals and those they work with, reducing productivity and risking poorer patient care. To encourage employers and trade unions to work together to ensure a positive culture in NHS organisations, the SPF developed the Tackling bullying in the NHS: a collective call to action. The call to action invites employers and trade unions in NHS organisations to work in partnership to:

• achieve the overarching leadership and cultural change to tackle bullying

• support staff to respectfully challenge problem behaviours

• publish their plans and progress so staff, patients and the public can hold them to account.

A letter from the regional SPF chairs has been sent to chief executives, HR directors and trade union leads in all provider organisations, and to the accountable officer in all Clinical Commissioning Groups, to inform  them about the call to action and how they can get involved. The letter also signposted organisations to a range of guidance, resources and good practice on tackling bullying which are available on the SPF website.  

The SPF encourage employers and trade unions to use the 2016 staff survey figures as a benchmark for their partnership initiatives to tackle bullying and also to support their other work on ensuring their staff have a positive experience at work.