Half of employees think NHS is understaffed

By Jonathan Moore

Almost half of NHS employees said there is not enough time or staff to do their job properly, a survey has revealed.

The report, published by the Healthcare Commission, also said ambulance drivers were suffering from far worse conditions and experiences than other NHS staff and their “poorer work experiences” had to be explored further.

While there was a slight improvement in figures, the majority of ambulance staff still say their vehicles are not being kept in a decent state of repair.

“The finding that 47 per cent of NHS workers think there are not enough staff to do the job properly must be taken extremely seriously,” said Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb.

“We need urgent reassurance that lessons will be learned across the NHS.”

He warned that while there was clearly scope for efficiency savings, cuts to frontline staff could compromise patient care.

Believed to be one of the largest surveys of staff in the world, the 2008 NHS staff survey questionnaires were completed between October and December by 160,000 workers from all 390 NHS trusts.

The commission said they were pleased with the improvements and progress that had been made, but were keen to highlight some major concerns remain.

Anna Walker, the commission’s chief executive, said: “We know that a good working environment for staff means better care for patients.

“Infection control, work-related stress and harassment and abuse by patients have been tough nuts to crack for the NHS.

“This survey shows real progress is being made to tackle some of the issues that impact negatively on NHS staff ¿ this can only improve quality of care for patients.”

She also said she was pleased to see staff moving away from a “blame culture” and that they were more happy to report mistakes, but was concerned about the lack of feedback from management to these reports

“Staff feel informed, but not involved in decisions that affect their working life and don’t feel valued by their trust,” she said.

“Yet the survey shows that NHS staff are dedicated to their jobs and to their patients. They want to provide a high standard of care and they want to make a difference.

“Leaders and managers need to harness this dedication and drive forward their vision for the National Health Service, so that all staff understand what their organisation and the service are working towards.”

Some of the key changes from last year were that work-related stress was down by five percent while the reporting of violent incidents was up five percent.