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DHSC staff bemoan lack of vision

Published on: 5 Apr 2023

Most staff at the Department of Health and Social Care do not believe their managers have a ‘clear vision’ or that changes to the organisation are either positive or well handled, according to survey results.

The latest Civil Service people survey also found fewer than a third (30 per cent) felt change was managed well, while under a quarter (23 per cent) believed that when changes are made, they are usually for the better. Forty-three per cent of DHSC staff felt senior leaders had a clear vision for the department, compared to the 50 per cent average.

Eighty-three per cent of DHSC staff responded to the 2022 survey, which looks at civil servants’ attitudes to, and experiences of, working in government departments. 

Results showed the department performed below the average on certain themes, such as organisational objectives and purpose, as well as learning and development.

However, the DHSC scored at or above the average on other survey themes such as questions about how staff feel about their managers, teams, pay and benefits, as well as inclusion and fair treatment.

Just under a quarter (24 per cent) of staff felt their pay was reasonable when compared to similar jobs. This was slightly above the 23 per cent average on the question.

Only 28 per cent of all civil servants were satisfied with their pay and benefits and was a significant drop-off from 39 per cent in 2021.

Meanwhile, the UK Health Security Agency, which was established in April 2021 after Public Health England was disbanded, saw lower survey scores in some areas compared to the DHSC, including leadership and management change.

Following a 66 per cent response rate, just 39 per cent of UKHSA staff felt senior leaders had a clear vision for the organisation, while only 44 per cent had confidence in senior managers’ decisions.

A little over a fifth (21 per cent) either “strongly agreed” or “agreed” when asked whether changes were managed well, and if so, it is usually for the better.

Staff were more positive about their work, their managers, teams as well as inclusion and fair treatment.

UKHSA’s March board papers said there was a “recognition of work that needs to be done” in response to an “overall decline” in recent people survey results, with particular respect to pay and change.

people delivery plan, sent to the board in January, said bullying, harassment and discrimination were areas they “wanted to investigate more deeply as behaviour or treatment perceived in this light is unacceptable”.

Just over one in 10 UKHSA staff said they had been bullied or harassed at work in the past 12 months, according to the survey.

UKHSA chief executive Dame Jenny Harries said the findings from the survey have been “taken seriously”.

She added: “As we mature as an organisation two years on from formation, we are listening and taking immediate action to ensure UKHSA remains a positive and inclusive place for everyone, with strong leadership and a place where the exceptional skills of our staff are recognised by all.”

A DHSC spokeswoman told HSJ the results will be used to inform how the department can “better support our employees to thrive and continue to deliver on our objectives”.