This survey tells a clear story of NHS human resources leaders working hard to deal with a number of challenges, and generally balancing these priorities well.

It is great they see staff engagement and morale is holding up despite the significant workforce issues facing the NHS and the considerable organisational changes.

‘We are impressing on the junior doctors and consultants that their contracts need to change’

NHS Employers is constantly updating the materials we produce to support HR and line managers and our online staff engagement toolkit is a great source of tips, tools and resources.

The responses to questions about pay are not surprising and are indicative of the size of the challenge facing not just the NHS, but the public sector in general. It is also important to remember that the NHS is the only bit of the public sector that has been able to agree changes to terms and conditions.

However, it is clear further workforce reform is required and terms like annual increments continue to add pressure.

Something has to give

The recommendation from the government’s pay review body that salaries be increased by 1 per cent wasn’t particularly helpful, and I remain perplexed about how they came to it.

We will be working to support employers to implement the pay framework changes we have already agreed. We recognise all eyes are now on contract discussions and we are impressing on the junior doctors and consultants that their contracts need to change.

As we approach the government’s comprehensive spending review next month, we must highlight that the NHS cannot increase staff numbers, have higher pay, and maintain and improve staff morale and positive employee relations while also trying to meet its financial challenges. Something has got to give.

Dean Royles is chief executive at NHS Employers