A quarter of NHS workers looking for new jobs due to low morale, survey finds

Up to a quarter of staff will look for a new job in the next 12 months, the NHS staff survey revealed Credit: PA

Up to a quarter of staff working at hospitals across the Anglia region plan to look for new jobs elsewhere due to morale, a wide-ranging study of staff has shown.

At some hospitals the figure was up to three points higher than the national average, as revealed in the results of the annual NHS staff survey, which is one of the largest workforce polls in the world.

Some 25% of staff at both the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and King’s Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) say they will “probably look for a job at a new organisation in the next year" – compared with a national average of 22%.

Percentage of staff members at other hospitals in the region that would consider looking for a new job:

  • 25% of staff at Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

  • 23% of staff at Cambridge University Foundation Trust

  • 23% of staff at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust

  • 22% of staff at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust

  • 23% of staff at Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

  • 20% of staff at Milton Keynes University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

  • 18% of staff at James Paget University Hospital (JPUH)

Among the three hospitals in Norfolk, the NNUH performed the least well on a range of questions.

Only 19% of NNUH staff said there were “enough staff for me to do my job properly", compared with 22% at the QEH and a national average of 26%. The figure at the JPUH was 27%.

Among registered nurses and midwives at the NNUH, the figure was as low as 12.5%.

Figures are 'very worrying'

Teresa Budrey, eastern regional director at the Royal College of Nursing said: “The government needs to heed these results and take urgent action to recruit and retain nursing staff across our region.

“When there are not enough staff it can mean patients don’t receive the care they need or their safety is compromised. It can also lead to delays in patients receiving treatment, which is already a concern due to backlogs caused by the Covid crisis.”

An NNUH staff member, who asked to remain anonymous, said that in addition to “severe staffing shortages”, the hospital was suffering from “dangerous overcrowding” which was “demoralising staff”.

They also alleged there was a lack of visibility among the hospital’s leadership.

“The senior teams making decisions regarding the organisation are seldom seen in clinical environments,” they said.

“Furthermore, frontline staff are never included in discussions about how care should be provided.”

NNUH chief executive Sam Higginson responded: “This year’s staff survey results reflect a difficult period for our organisation and what staff have been telling us around work pressures and the impact that has had on morale and wellbeing.

“We are developing a three-year improvement plan and already have several large-scale recruitment campaigns underway to help ensure we have the staff numbers we need, which includes the 96 international nurses who are due to join us by the end of May.

“We are working with other organisations across Norfolk and Waveney to recruit 800 healthcare assistants, with our trust taking the largest cohort."

On other measures, the QEH performed least well in Norfolk. Just 48% of QEH staff said they were happy with the hospital’s standard of care, compared with 60% at the NNUH and a national average of 67 percent. The JPUH’s figure was 72%.

The QEH’s director of people Jo Humphries said: “This is a disappointing result for our trust and we will continue to work closely with our staff to make further improvements to their work experiences as we continue to develop.

“Since the survey data was collected, we have introduced further measures to support our staff and make our trust a place people can feel proud to work.”

JPUH chief executive Anna Hills said the hospital’s relative positive scores were “encouraging” but said the responses nonetheless “reflect the experience of the unprecedented challenge of the pandemic”.

How did the region's ambulance service perform?

The East of England Ambulance Service performed the worst out of England and Wales’ 11 ambulance trusts on a range of questions relating to morale and working conditions.

Over two-thirds of staff reported going into work despite not feeling well enough to do their jobs.

Some 64% also reported feeling “unwell as a result of work-related stress” in the previous year.

Tom Abell, the trust's chief executive, said: "While the NHS staff survey acknowledges the improvements we have made in key areas - the results also show that we still have deep-rooted, long-standing issues that need to be addressed."