Morale among NHS staff is holding up despite challenges including funding constraints, the Mid Staffordshire public inquiry, government reforms and reductions to pay and conditions, according to human resources directors.

Of the 70 NHS provider HR directors who responded to the HSJ/NHS Employers barometer survey, 79 per cent rated morale among their staff as “moderate”. Nine per cent said it was high and 12 per cent said it was poor.

Respondents were also asked about staff engagement in their organisation’s strategic priorities. Fifty-one per cent rated this as “moderate”, 37 per cent said it was high or very high, and 12 per cent said it was poor.

Staff representatives and healthcare leaders have previously expressed concern about the impact on morale of Robert Francis QC’s report into failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust and the surrounding media coverage of NHS care failings.

There has also been concern about the effect of other factors including efficiency savings, cuts to pay and terms, and the government’s NHS reforms.

NHS Employers chief executive Dean Royles said: “It is a testament to the work of local employers that morale is holding up. Good partnership working is the key to sustaining this.”

The survey also found widespread support among NHS provider HR directors for the use of aptitude tests in appointments. Three-quarters were in favour, 10 per cent were against, and the remainder were unsure.

Three-quarters said they did not believe Maintaining High Professional Standards, the disciplinary framework for doctors, was fit for purpose.