NHS Staff Survey 2015


The 2015 NHS Staff Survey results were released on 23 February. 

The survey showed progress in many key areas despite the intense pressures on the service. Fifteen of the key findings measured in the survey improved, seven remained the same and the remainder were stable or not comparable due to changes in question wording. 

In particular there are improved results for staff engagement, confidence in reporting concerns and willingness to recommend the service. The survey also highlights where results have worsened on work pressures, bullying and harassment and concerns over staffing levels.

There continues to be wide variation in scores and scope for progress on key questions. NHS Employers will use the survey results to inform our work to support employers in areas such as staff engagement, health and wellbeing and raising concerns. In addition the Social Partnership Forum is considering national support to tackle bullying across the NHS.


The survey was sent out to 741,000 staff in 297 NHS organisations. 299,000 staff responded, which is the highest ever number of staff responding. This is partly due to a greater number of organisations surveying all their staff through a census and some doing the survey on-line. The response rate of 41 per cent is lower than in 2014 (42 per cent) perhaps reflecting the impact of the Staff Friends and Family Test. The data in the national results is weighted to reflect the distribution of staff. 


The 2015 results return the NHS to a place where steady progress is being made on key measures over the last five years. In 2014 there was a noticeable dip in several key areas including staff engagement. The 2015 results are improved compared to this and in many cases are higher now than in 2011.

Staff engagement

  • The survey highlights a significant improvement in the level of staff engagement in one year and reflects the sustained effort of organisations across the NHS. Staff engagement rose from 3.71 in 2014 to 3.78. It compares with 3.60 when the measured was introduced in 2011. 
  • The staff engagement index is a composite score made up of the indicators of staff motivation, willingness to recommend the service and levels of involvement. The increase is driven by the improvement in staff motivation from 3.83 to 3.92 and in willingness to recommend the service from 3.65 to 3.72, as well as in levels of involvement from 3.85 to 3.89.
  • There has been a particular focus on improved involvement within the NHS over the past year. The percentage of staff who felt able to contribute to improvements rose from 68.1 to 69.8 per cent. There is however variation between being giving ideas and implementation. 75 per cent reported that they can make suggestions to improve their team or department, whereas 56 per cent felt able to make improvements. 
  • There was also a notable improvement in the willingness to recommend the organisation as a place to work or receive treatment. 69 per cent of NHS staff said that if a friend or relative needed treatment they would be happy with the standard of care provided by their organisation – up from 65 per cent in 2014. 9 per cent disagreed with the statement. 59 per cent of staff would recommend their organisation as a place to work – up from 57 per cent in 2014. 16 per cent disagreed with the statement. The overall index covering both questions rose from 3.65 to 3.72. 

Health and Wellbeing

There is more of a mixed picture on health and wellbeing: 

  • An improvement in the reported level of stress, those reporting stress fell from 38.9 per cent to 37 per cent perhaps reflecting the range of interventions in this area. There has been variation over the past five years in stress levels and the 2015 figure is higher than in 2011. 
  • There is a high degree of  confidence in the willingness of the organisation to take action on health and wellbeing. 89 per cent reported that their organisation took positive action on health and well being and 66 per cent felt their manager took an interest in their health. 
  • 58.7 per cent of staff reported feeling pressure to work when unwell (a small fall compared to 60.6 per cent in 2014) though still too high. In most cases this pressure came from staff commitment rather than managerial pressure. 
  • The area of most concern is bullying and harassment. There was a change to the wording on this question to provide separate figures for bullying by managers and staff. Overall the figure rose from 23.5 to 24.8 per cent. In particular one in eight staff reported being harassed or bullied by their manager.  

Raising concerns

The overall revised indicator shows an increase in confidence and security in reporting unsafe clinical practice, rising from 3.62 to 3.63 per cent. There is a high degree of confidence in being able to raise concerns with 68 per cent of staff feeling secure in raising concerns.  56 per cent of staff are confident that their organisation would address the concerns if raised.

Other issues 

The survey covers a wide range of issues from overall staff appraisal rates to staff perception of quality of care. Some other key questions are highlighted below.

  • There was a welcome improvement in staff satisfaction with level of support from managers. This rose from 3.67 per cent in 2014 to 3.72 per cent in 2015. Only 42 per cent however felt that their organisation valued their work though this was up from 41 per cent in 2014.
  • There were broadly stable figures on levels of discrimination and belief in equal opportunities. These figures are for all staff. An analysis on the basis of Workplace Race Equality System  indicators will be made available later and has historically shown higher levels of discrimination experienced by minority groups. 
  • Only 31 per cent of staff feel that that staffing levels are adequate with 48 per cent disagreeing with this statement.
  • On pay 38 per cent reported that they are satisfied with their level of pay compared to 33 per cent in 2014.
  • There are a range of questions indicating staff concern over their ability to provide the level of care. For example only 55 per cent of staff feel they have adequate supplies and equipment to do their work compared to 57 per cent in 2014.

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