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NHS Staff Survey sees a worrying decline in staff health and wellbeing

NHS Staff Survey sees a worrying decline in staff health and wellbeing


The results of the 2018 NHS Staff Survey have been published and although not surprising the results are deeply worrying. The survey provides the most in depth insight into the concerns and experiences of the NHS workforce.

Key findings include:


  • 5% improvement in staff satisfaction with Pay
  • 51% of staff are thinking about leaving their current role and 21% want to quit the NHS altogether.
  • 78% feel under unrealistic time pressures some or all of the time.
  • Nearly six in 10 say they do unpaid overtime every week.
  • Nearly 28% have suffered back pain in the last year as a direct result of their work, up two percentage points since 2017.
  • Fewer than three in 10 feel their trust takes positive action to improve staff health and wellbeing.
  • Two in five staff in England felt sick from the stress of their job at some point last year.


The figure of 39.8% of staff feeling unwell as a result of work-related stress was the highest in five years. The results showed an alarming decrease in staff wellbeing. If NHS staff are unable to cope with the strain caused by widespread understaffing, years of tight budgets and fast-growing demand for care, then the care patients receive will be detrimentally affected.

The NHS is already seriously understaffed in the NHS, with one in 11 of all posts unfilled. The survey found 51% of staff were considering leaving, 30% often thought about leaving the trust they worked for, 22% planned to look for a new job with a different trust in the next year and 16% intended to leave as soon as they could find another job. Almost half of respondents said their trust was so short of staff that they could not do their job properly.

One in seven staff said they had been attacked by a patient or a patient’s relative over the past year and under one in five said they had been bullied, harassed or abused by a colleague. Worryingly, 28% had seen an error or near miss in the previous month - the highest in five years.

The College of Podiatry’s ongoing health, safety and wellbeing work finds that 63% of podiatrists suffer from MSK problems at work, 51% from work-related stress and 27% have felt pressure to come to work even though they felt too ill to do so.

That so many staff feel unwell because of work, with last year being the worst in five years, means employers need to both give their staff better access to appropriate support services and actively promote a no-blame culture. In addition, with the toll on podiatrists’ physical health mounting, the College believes that better provision and funding of occupational health services is urgently needed to reduce the amount of time staff spend off work.

Properly supporting podiatrists and the wider NHS workforce by placing staff health and wellbeing at the centre of the NHS benefits patients, staff and the whole NHS through better patient outcomes, improved staff morale and reduced staff turnover and sickness absence.

The full survey can be found here.

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