There has been an improvement in communication between senior managers and staff after the issue was highlighted in the Francis report, according to the results of the NHS Staff Survey, published today.

Although only 29.5 per cent of staff reported good communication with senior management, this represented a 2.1 percentage point rise on the previous year.

The survey, completed by 203,000 NHS staff across England in the autumn, saw improvements in 21 out of the 28 categories in comparison to the previous year.

This includes a fall in the proportion of staff experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from either patients and relatives or other members of staff. There were also fewer reports of staff feeling pressurised to attend work when unwell.

Sue Covill, director of employment services at NHS Employers, said: “It’s been over a year since the second Francis report was published, so it is encouraging that staff have confidence in reporting their concerns and know how to do so”.

The Francis report explained how managers at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust had failed to listen to staff’s concerns about safety.

The survey shows a 1.2 percentage point rise in the proportion on staff being appraised in the last 12 months and a 1.7 percentage point rise in staff reporting having well-structured appraisals. However, this latter figure still only amounted to 37.9 per cent.   

Josie Irwin, employment relations manager at the Royal College of Nursing, said: For [appraisals] to be worthwhile, for staff to be getting the most in terms of learning and development opportunities, it should never be a tick box exercise. From the survey results it feels as if it is.”

There was 0.8 percentage point rise in staff working extra hours. About 81 per cent of nurses reported working extra hours, 10 percentage points above the average across all staff groups.

Ms Irwin said the results were “very indicative of the pressures that nurses are working under” and despite a “year of critical reports” about the NHS, “there are still cracks in the system and there are still areas where there isn’t sufficient staff”.

Nearly two thirds of staff said they would be happy with the standard of care provided by their organisation if a friend or relative needed treatment - a 2 per cent rise on 2012.

However, the figure at both North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust and Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust was just 40 per cent.

Ann Farrar, chief executive of North Cumbria, said the trust had seen a five percentage point increase in staff recommending its care to their loved ones from the previous year. 

“Although these are small increases, they are without doubt a positive step in the right direction as we continue to work together with our teams on our journey of improvement,” she said.  

Mid Yorkshire chief executive Stephen Eames said: “Clearly these results are disappointing. Our staff work really hard to provide a good service and deserve to feel positive about their experience of coming to work.”

The trust was also placed among the lowest 20 per cent of hospital trusts for staff satisfaction and motivation. It plans to look into the concerns and has agreed to invest £1m into recruiting more nurses.