NHS staff survey calls for improvement on work-related stress

NHS Staff Survey Stress Midwives

The recently published NHS Staff Survey reveals that overall quality of care and staff happiness has improved over the year, however, there is still more to be done on midwives' work-related stress, as well as harassment and discrimination from the public.  

569,000 NHS employees across 300 separate organisations responded to this year's NHS Staff Survey, with the results showing staff morale has improved across the NHS.

Staff this year are more likely to report that their manager encourages them at work, strains on working relationships have reduced, and staff are less likely to want to leave their organisation compared to 2018.

Although there have been overall improvements to staff wellbeing, 40 per cent of midwives said they have felt unwell due to stress at work. They also reported to working more unpaid hours than some of the other NHS staff groups.

Commenting on the findings, Jon Skewes, Executive Director of External Relations at the RCM, said: The NHS is moving in the right direction in valuing and supporting its staff. But midwives' responses show they feel less supported to do their jobs as well as they can than many of their colleagues. This is a compelling argument for more investment in midwives, maternity support workers and maternity services.

The RCM is working hard with employers to improve the health, wellbeing and working environment of its members through our Caring for You campaign. The Government and the NHS need to step up efforts, and ensure midwives have the resources and working conditions to concentrate on delivering the safest and highest quality care for mothers, babies and their families.

The survey results also showed more than one in four (28.5 per cent) of NHS staff said they had experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from patients, relatives or members of the public, almost one in seven (14.9 per cent) experienced physical violence, and almost 40,000 of those who responded (7.2 per cent) said they faced discrimination from patients over the last year – up from 5.8 per cent in 2015.

Racism was the most common form of discrimination, but 2019 also saw the highest levels of reported sexism and intolerance of religion and sexuality.

The new figures come as NHS leaders confirmed that from April under NHS England's new Standard Contract rules, NHS services will be able to protect staff by barring from non-emergency care any visitor who inflicts discriminatory or harassing behaviour on staff.

Prerana Issar, Chief People Officer for the NHS, added: "Taking care of and valuing our staff is at the heart of our ambition to make the NHS the best place to work, so I am delighted that managers are increasingly taking an active interest in the health and wellbeing of their teams.

"Creating a healthy, inclusive and compassionate culture is paramount to delivering the care patients expect.

"It is not acceptable that our NHS people experience any form of discrimination from patients or the public at work. Our People Plan will set out what colleagues can expect from the NHS as a modern employer."