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Leaked national survey reveals steep fall in support for staff wellbeing

Published on: 21 Sep 2021

Leaked results from a national survey of NHS staff has revealed a sharp drop in those who believe their health and wellbeing is being supported by their employer.

The People Pulse is a national, monthly survey launched in 2020. It enables provider and commissioner organisations to monitor the NHS workforce’s health and wellbeing.

According to a snapshot of the results recorded between May and August seen by HSJ, there was a drop of 9.6 percentage points in “perceptions of wellbeing support”, with “positivity” sitting at 57.3 per cent.

Almost a quarter of the survey respondents reported a “negative” experience of health and wellbeing support.

The survey results also revealed almost a third of respondents said they wanted to speak up about a specific issue during the pandemic, especially on issues of staff safety, health and wellbeing, but they did not because they feared repercussions or believed nothing would happen.

The survey found that although NHS staff are less worried about personal and family health than in the recent past, general anxiety levels remained high. Thirty-five per cent of respondents described themselves as demotivated. The report said this suggested “colleagues are becoming jaded due to the prolonged pressures of the pandemic”.

The survey also reported a drop in work-life balance, with more than one in four NHS workers “struggling to find a balance that works for them”. It encouraged employers to offer “greater flexibility” in work schedules and said this was a “top ask”, especially from paramedics and ambulance control staff. 

Finally, the survey showed that NHS staff confidence in “local leaders’ management of [the pandemic’s] impact” had fallen by three percentage points between May and August to 64 per cent.

At the end of 2020 NHS England and Improvement invested £15m in increased staff mental health support, which it said would provide rapid access to mental health support services, “wellbeing training” and a special support service for critical care staff.

However, the 2020 NHS staff survey also revealed the extent of the mental heath impact of frontline staff, with over half of staff caring for covid patients reporting a stress-related illness.