Blog post

Giving ‘our NHS people’ a voice that counts

In this blog, John Drew of NHS England, highlights the importance of the NHS Staff Survey in ensuring all NHS people have a voice that counts.

3 October 2022

John Drew is Director of Staff Experience and Engagement at NHS England. In this blog he highlights the importance of the NHS Staff Survey in ensuring all NHS people have a voice that counts.

One of the core elements of the People Promise is ‘We have a voice that counts’. The NHS Staff Survey 2022, which opened this week, is one of the largest workforce surveys in the world. The survey is run independently of NHS England and gives every member of staff the opportunity to share their experiences with us anonymously. This lets staff tell us, in their own words, what we can do to improve experiences at work in order for staff to stay and stay well. This is more important than ever at a time when the operational pressures on the NHS are so acute.

It is NHS England’s responsibility to support listening to the voices of our NHS people and ensure the quality of working experience is at the forefront of everything we do. This goes beyond just listening and extends to providing staff with an opportunity to shape the decisions that directly impact them. The data we get from the NHS Staff Survey is available publicly and can be used by teams, staff networks, employers, and other stakeholders, such as professional bodies, to understand and improve colleagues’ experiences and ultimately improve patient experience and care.

I am proud that the NHS workforce is one of the most diverse in the world. Equality, diversity, and inclusion should always be at the heart of everything we do. To ensure all staff have good work experience, with specific tailored interventions where necessary, it’s essential that we hear from a wide range of voices. For us to continue to make the most informed decisions we can improve everyone’s experience, we need to ensure as many staff as possible are invited to complete the staff survey and do so.

That’s why, this year, we have extended eligibility to around 200,000 bank only workers. During the pandemic, bank workers stepped up and provided support and flexibility to many of our organisations. The national staff survey team has worked with experts and stakeholders to develop the right approach when extending eligibility. This included question testing with bank only workers and extensive engagement with representatives from staff side unions, academics, the Staff Survey Coordination Centre, Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES), Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES), and NHS England’s regional and temporary staffing teams. Bank only workers will have their own tailored questions, aligned to the main survey to capture their distinct experiences, and provide us with invaluable insight.

The survey enables us to measure progress against the seven elements of the NHS People Promise which staff told us matter most to them as well as the themes of Engagement and Morale, which have a strong correlation with quality of care and staff experience. This means we will be able to track where we have made improvements to your experience, as well as identify areas which still require our attention.

After the unique demands that we have faced over the last few years and the challenges we face this winter, it is more important than ever that we continue to understand working experience, so please encourage all your teams to make their voices count. While the survey’s insights help to develop organisational strategy, staff experience isn’t just for the board or for those in formal leadership positions. Each of us has an impact on how our colleagues feel in their daily working life. Evidence tells us that good teamwork, compassion and inclusion, and the practical care and support of our colleagues has a significant impact on employee experience.  A positive staff experience can only become a reality across the NHS if we all play our part. One way you can do that is by encouraging colleagues to use 15 minutes of time and filling in the survey. In the words of the People Promise: “We each have a voice that counts”.