Care Quality Commission
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NHS staff have their say as the results of national survey are published

The results of the eighth annual survey to collect the views of NHS staff across England are published today (16 March) by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Almost 165,000 employees at the country’s 388 trusts took part in the survey, which was carried out during the final quarter of last year. This represented 54% of those who were asked to participate, compared with 55% in 2009.

The survey covered all occupational groups, from doctors and nurses to clerical workers, and from radiographers to clinical psychologists.

They were asked a broad range of questions seeking their experiences of, or opinions on, matters such as appraisals, training, job satisfaction, line management, work-related stress, experience of violence and abusive behaviour, and making a difference to patients.

Cynthia Bower, CQC’s chief executive, said: “This is an important survey because it provides a snapshot of how those who work within the NHS feel about what they do and the experiences they have at work.

“I know that the vast majority of NHS employees are personally committed and motivated to do the best work they possibly can. The survey results will help trusts to pinpoint what else they can do to support and develop staff to ensure they can provide the best care for patients.

“The Department of Health will also make use of the findings, to inform its policy-making and its work on performance measurement and service improvement.

“For our part, as the care services regulator, the survey findings will contribute to the information we gather on how well trusts are continuing to comply with some of the essential standards of quality and safety that underpin our work.”

Some of the findings from the NHS staff survey

Certain questions in the survey showed that ambulance personnel had poorer experiences compared with other groups of employees, for instance in the support they received from their manager and the extent to which they felt their work was valued by their trust. However, many ambulance staff work in a different environment to others in the NHS, making comparisons inappropriate. There were improvements for ambulance workers since the 2009 survey in some respects, notably the proportions that received appraisals and health and safety training.

Appraisals, training and development

Seventy-seven per cent of staff had received an appraisal or development review, up from 69% in 2009, but only 34% felt their appraisal or review was well structured, (31% in 2009).  Despite high levels of training, only 35% of staff felt they had good opportunities to progress at work, against 40% in 2009. Of ambulance staff, 70% had an appraisal, up from 47% in 2009, but only 20% felt it was well structured (14% in 2009). While 78% of all staff received health and safety training (compared with 76% in 2009), the figures for ambulance staff rose considerably, to 55% compared with 45% in 2009.

Staff as advocates

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents said they would be happy with the standard of care provided by their trust if a relative or friend needed treatment (compared with 62% in 2009), and over half (53%) said they would recommend their trust as a place to work (55% in 2009).

Making a difference to patients

Ninety per cent of staff felt that their role ultimately made a difference to patients, and 87% were satisfied with the quality of care they personally gave. Both these figures were unchanged from 2009. 

Violence and abuse

Eight per cent of staff overall reported experiencing physical violence from patients, relatives or other members of the public, while 15% said they had been subjected to bullying, harassment and abuse. The figures on violence were higher for front-line staff (12%), particularly workers in ambulance trusts (18%) and mental health trusts (15%). Bullying, harassment and abuse from patients and relatives were also more prevalent among front-line staff (18%) and much worse for ambulance workers (27%). Fifteen per cent of all staff had experienced bullying, harassment and abuse from their line manager or other colleagues.


There has been a slight reduction in the proportion of staff who said that hot water, soap and paper towels or alcohol rubs were always available when they needed them – down to 68% from 71% in 2009. Twenty five percent said that they were available most of the time, compared with 23% previously. Sixty per cent said that hand-washing materials were always available to patients (63% in 2009) and 22% that they were available most of the time (previously 21%).

Errors, near misses and incidents

Thirty-two per cent of staff said they had seen at least one error, “near miss” or incident that could have hurt staff or patients in the last month (compared with 33% in 2009). Of front-line staff, 42% said that they had witnessed at least one such adverse event in the last month (43% in 2009). The number of ambulance staff witnessing errors, near misses or incidents has decreased from 37% in 2009 to 34% in 2010.

Staff turnover

There has been a slight increase in the proportion of staff who said they intended to leave their employer. Twenty-nine per cent of all the respondents, compared with 28% in 2009, said they often felt like leaving their trust; 21% (20% in 2009) said they would probably look for another job in the next year; and 15% (14% in 2009) said they would leave as soon as they could find another job.

Notes to editor:

For further information please contact the CQC press office on 0207 448 9401 or out of hours on 07917 232 143.

About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of all health and adult social care in England. Our aim is to make sure that better care is provided for everyone, whether it is in hospital, in care homes, in people’s own homes, or anywhere else that care is provided. We also seek to protect the interests of people whose rights are restricted under the Mental Health Act. We promote the rights and interests of people who use services and we have a wide range of enforcement powers to take action on their behalf if services are unacceptably poor.

We are introducing a new regulatory system that brings the NHS, independent healthcare and adult social care under a single set of essential standards of quality and safety for the first time. We register health and adult social care services if they meet essential standards, we monitor them to make sure that they continue to do so and we respond quickly if there are concerns that standards are not being maintained.  We rely on people who use services and those who care for and treat them to tell us about the quality and safety of services. This feedback is a vital part of our dynamic system of regulation which places the views, experiences, health and wellbeing of people who use services at its centre.


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