The results of the annual NHS staff survey are now out for 2014 (you can access them here). This is a long standing survey that has been running with various questions for over ten years now (the previous years’ results are here). This means that there is now more than enough data to see trends that are coming through and changes over time.

The survey has a broad range of questions but does try and ensure that the NHS Staff Pledges are being achieved.

In this post, and a subsequent one, I am only looking at the survey results specifically in areas covering feedback and communications. If you want data on other clinical areas that can be found on the links given above.  I look at the results overall – it should be noted there may be big variations between trusts.

One of the pledges states the following and the remainder of this post looks at how well this is being achieved.

The NHS commits to engage staff in decisions that affect them and the services they provide, individually, through representative organisations and through local partnership working arrangements. All staff will be empowered to put forward ways to deliver better and safer services for patients and their families

I know who the senior managers are here

The first point is “do people know who they should be addressing their feedback to?” and given that responsibility rests with the senior management it is important that people know who they are. Over the years that this question has been part of the survey there has been a significant improvement (an increase of 14%) in the numbers that either strongly agree or agree that they do know who the senior managers are.  There are however a significant number of staff who don’t appear to know who the relevant senior management are.

I know who the senior managers are here

Senior managers act on staff feedback

Knowing who the managers are is only half the battle. Having management act upon what is raised is the next step. Looking at the survey results those that agree with this statement has remained pretty much unchanged at around 30% for the last seven years. Looking at the flip side of this there are 30% of the respondents who still feel that feedback isn’t acted upon and another 40% that are undecided.

What the survey doesn’t tell us, of course, is whether individuals feel that they have the means to actually reach out to senior managers when they have feedback to give.

Senior managers act on staff feedback

Senior Managers encourage staff to suggest new ideas for improving services

Given the pressures on the NHS to raise the quality of their delivery and at the same time reduce costs getting feedback from those on the front line as to how these improvements can be made is vital. However, those in agreement that staff are encouraged to make such suggestions has been in steady decline since 2003, down 11% over this period to 39% of respondents.  This is possibly a little surprising given the technological changes in communcations over this period.

Senior Managers encourage staff to suggest new ideas for improving services

Communication between senior management and staff is effective

What is regarded as effective isn’t clear and is somewhat left to the individual to decide but what is clear is that after a period from 2007 to 2011 when this took a dip the numbers that agree this communication is effective is again on the rise. The split between agree/disagree is about 30% to each – but still from a lowish base of only 40% agreeing that communication is effective.

Communication between senior management and staff is effective

Conclusions

Looking at the above it might be possible to conclude that staff know who their senior management are but this does not translate to a faith that what they raise is likely to be acted upon where there is still room for improvement.

In the second part we take a look at bullying and harassment in the NHS workplace and the communication around the reporting of such incidents.

Photo: Rastrojo via Wikipedia

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