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Discrimination ‘biggest cause of staff leaving’

Published on: 28 Apr 2023

Discrimination and inequality are bigger factors for staff wanting to leave acute trusts than burnout, new analysis of this year’s NHS staff survey has found. 

Researchers at LCP compared 12 summary indicators within the survey to answers on intention to leave, to build a “relative importance model” to explain “nearly 85 per cent of the variation in intention to leave”.

LCP said: “Approximately 30 per cent of that explained variance is attributable to the diversity and equality score (compared to less than 10 per cent attributable to the burnout summary indicator score).”

The annual survey, carried out in autumn 2022 and published in March this year, includes responses from more than 600,000 NHS staff. It found nearly a quarter (23.8 per cent) of surveyed staff in acute trusts intended to leave their position within the next 12 months. 

The survey also revealed just under one in 10 (9.4 per cent) staff members at acute trusts had experienced discrimination from their managers and colleagues within the last 12 months, although this rose to 17.2 per cent for ethnic minority staff. Meanwhile, 12.8 per cent of acute staff said their organisation did not act fairly regarding career progression and promotion. 

LCP’s analysis of the NHS staff survey’s diversity and equality indicator score – consisting of the “does your organisation act fairly with regard to career progression”, “experience of discrimination at work” and “my organisation respects individual differences” sets of questions – also revealed regional variation. On average, much lower and poorer diversity and equality scores were reported in London and the East of England, while scores were higher and better in North West and North East and Yorkshire (see map below).

Natalie Tikhonovsky, an analyst in LCP’s Health Analytics team, said: “Our analysis reveals a grim picture of low satisfaction levels and higher staff turnover rates currently facing the NHS acute sector. Understanding what is driving this will be key to the success of the government’s new workforce plan and to the overall aim of reducing steadily increasing wait lists.”