There are questions within the 2020 NHS Staff Survey on whether staff feel able to raise concerns (speak up) within their organisation. In the results, most of these measures improved, contributing to an overall improvement in the key theme for safety culture.
The raising concerns and safety (freedom to speak up) section showed:
- 88.3 per cent of staff agree that their organisation encourages them to report errors, near misses or incidents (similar to 2019 at 88.4 per cent)
- 60.9 per cent of staff agree that their organisation treats staff who are involved in an error, near miss or incident fairly (a 1.2 percentage point increase on 2019 and a 7.0 percentage point increase on 2016)
- 73.4 per cent of staff agree that their organisation acts on reported errors, near misses or incidents to ensure that they don’t happen again (a 2.3 percentage point increase on 2019 and a 4.7 percentage point increase on 2016)
- 62.7 per cent of staff agree that they are given feedback about changes made in response to reported errors, near misses and incidents (a 1.6 percentage point increase on 2019 and a 5.6 percentage point increase on 2016).
These improvements are echoed in an annual report for 2020 published by the National Guardian's Office, which praises the work of freedom to speak up guardians who have continued to support healthcare workers to speak up throughout the pandemic.
The overall indicators for bullying and harassment and violence made small improvements but levels remained unacceptably high.
It is also likely that the fall in bullying and harassment and violence from patients and relatives were affected by COVID-19 restrictions. There were also small falls in staff perception of support from managers and effectiveness of team working, possibly due to the disruptive impact of working through the pandemic, as staff were redeployed and teams not able to meet as frequently.
The survey also continues to show that ethnic minority staff experience a more negative experience across most indicators and have significantly less confidence that organisations are providing equal opportunities.
Issues of discrimination for lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) staff and disabled staff also emerged.