The NHS staff survey

Patient and therapist

07 / 3 / 2013 9.33am

Sabrina Richards, head of engagement and diversity at NHS Blood and Transport (NHSBT) outlined how they had successfully improved response rates in 2012 and used data from the survey as part of staff engagement. With a dispersed staff and wide variety of job roles NHSBT faced major challenges in securing staff participation in the survey. There was also some scepticism about the confidentiality of the survey and cynicism about its usefulness.

The service focussed on convincing staff that taking part would make a difference. A communications campaign was organised with posters of staff members containing information about how the service had used data from previous surveys, for example: "you said-we did" theme.

A number of staff survey champions were identified who helped promote the survey to colleagues. There was ongoing communication during the period of the survey, stressing this was a chance for staff to have their voice in the organisation.

The results of the 2011 survey were the basis for new initiatives such as employee of the month and other recognition programmes designed to address issues of staff feeling undervalued. The service also put great emphasis on improved communication with staff with high visibility initiatives such as directorate newsletters, "roadshows" with directors, informal drop in lunches with senior managers and the  use of electronic communications. 

Steven Weeks, policy manager at NHS Employers outlined the overall analysis of the2012  survey as "good results in challenging circumstances". He emphasised positive progress in key areas such as appraisal, staff engagement and confidence in raising concerns. He also highlighted areas such as growing staff concern over staffing levels, increased workloads and mixed results on health and wellbeing. Staff willingness to recommend services in what has become known as  the "Friends and Family" test has remained stable. Fuller analysis of the staff survey results can be found on our NHS staff survey page.

In light of the Francis Report Steven emphasised that data from the staff survey could help inform responses to the issues raised by Francis. Organisations could look at scores in areas such as effectiveness of team working, levels of concern over staffing and staff perception of managerial commitment to patient care. In addition, data on reporting of incidents and staff confidence in raising concerns would also be of relevance. 

During the discussions, delegates a number of issues including how to promote participation in the survey, issues around online completion, whether separate comparisons could be produced for organisations providing community and acute services and how to support line managers more effectively.

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