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HSJ has seen a copy of NHS England’s staff survey and it suggests that something is amiss in the People Directorate.

Out of the 20 directorates and NHS regions covered by the survey, ‘People’ reported the worst results, coming bottom in seven out of nine key measures and coming below the NHS England average on all.

Staff have of course been under a lot of pressure over recent months and the department recently lost its chief people officer – Prerana Issar resigned in March due to illness – but this survey is a clear warning sign its staff are not happy.

Also towards the bottom of the pack were the Communications and CEO’s office directorate, the Medical Directorate and the South East region. Among the best performing was the Greater Manchester Region, the Elective and Emergency Directorate and the Nursing Directorate.

NHS England’s overall results painted a picture of an organisation whose staff feel generally positive toward their organisation and, especially, about their teams and managers, but who are “frustrated”, “emotionally exhausted” and “worn out” and in line with the wider NHS there was a drop in staff recommending it as a place to work.

Impact uncertain

The problems facing ambulance services at the moment are massive: handover delays at hospitals leading to poor response times for patients in the community plus staff off sick with covid and stress.

Extra capacity would help – and many ambulance services regularly commission local independent ambulance services to help them either routinely or during periods of high demand. But this may not be enough and NHS England is now trying to commission an additional service.

But it is looking for an organisation which can operate across the country – and that may rule out many of the current operators who tend to be relatively small and operate in limited areas. HSJ has been told that St John’s Ambulance may be a good fit. It’s also not a huge contract at just £7.5m a year, or less than £1m a year for each ambulance trust – less than indicated in the prior information notice issued last year.

Will the additional capacity which this tender should produce make any difference? Yes, because every little helps, especially if it can be directed to regions most in need. But, given the depth of the problems, it may not make much impact.

Also on today

Waiting times guru Rob Findlay says infection prevention control changes need to bite if they are to stop surging elective lists, and in news we report that disabled staff are nearly twice as likely to face performance management as non-disabled staff.