BMJ 2014;348:g268 doi: 10.1136/bmj.g268 (Published 16 January 2014)

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NEWS Better staff engagement improves NHS care, says report Jacqui Wise London

A new report calls on healthcare organisations to increase staff engagement by making support for staff central to their strategies—and this in turn will improve the care of patients, productivity, and financial performance, it says.1

The report, by the Point of Care Foundation, an independent charity formed as a result of work carried out by the healthcare think tank the King’s Fund, said that patients’ satisfaction with services was higher in NHS trusts with better ratings of staff health and wellbeing. The report drew on a number of different sources, including the 2012 NHS staff survey and a survey of NHS chief executives conducted for the charity in 2013. It said that staff engagement rose slightly in 2012 after falling year on year since 2009. However, only two fifths of staff members thought that their work was sufficiently valued, and only 55% would recommend their organisation as a place to work. The report pointed out that whereas three quarters of staff said that they were able to make suggestions for improvement, only a quarter said that senior managers acted on them.

Around 30% of sickness absence in the NHS is a result of stress, the report said, a higher proportion than in other sectors. It said that the NHS could save £555m (€670m; $910m) a year if it reduced sickness absence by a third. The report also reported evidence that staff satisfaction was linked to lower rates of mortality and hospital acquired infection.

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The report gives examples of good practice. For example, the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool has an initiative called Work Well the Walton Way, which includes staff summits, award schemes, sports programmes, and improved access to occupational health services. In 2010 the trust had high and rising rates of sickness absence and average or below average results in staff and patient surveys. In 2013 after implementation of the initiative it had reduced absenteeism, improved survey results, and fewer complaints.

The report’s advice for NHS organisations includes giving all staff well structured appraisals, training line managers in people management skills, and acting on staff feedback. It also suggests dealing with small problems that annoy staff rather than making one big transformational push.

The director of the Point of Care Foundation, Jocelyn Cornwell, said, “It’s the experiences of staff that shape patients’ experiences of care, for good or ill, not the other way around. Working in healthcare ought to rank among the best jobs in the world, but far too many healthcare professionals feel overworked, disempowered, and unappreciated.” 1

Point of Care Foundation. Staff care: how to engage staff in the NHS and why it matters. Jan 2014.

Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g268 © BMJ Publishing Group Ltd 2014


Better staff engagement improves NHS care, says report.

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