Inappropriate behaviour isn’t being dealt with effectively or quickly enough, a sizeable proportion of NHS staff believe.

The view was taken by 43 per cent of the 2,000 NHS staff questioned for a survey published by The King’s Fund.

The poll shows the opinion is also shared by 16 per cent of the executive board members who were surveyed.

Most staff (89 per cent) said they thought their organisation encouraged feedback from patients, while 61 per cent thought the feedback would be acted upon.

But only 39 per cent said a culture of honesty, openness and challenge characterised their organisations.

The research also shows that executive directors are far likelier to have an upbeat view of their organisation’s working culture than other staff, such as doctors and nurses.

While almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of the executive directors surveyed said they thought staff were proud and optimistic, the same view was taken by only 20 per cent and 22 per cent of nurse and doctors respectively.

The King’s Fund report on the findings said NHS board members were “not in tune” with other members of staff in their organisations, a new report suggests.

The poll of NHS bosses and clinicians found that executive board members “consistently” had different views than other people who worked beneath them.

While almost six in 10 executives thought that enough priority is given to quality of care in the NHS, under three in 10 doctors and nurses had the same sentiment.

Some 45 per cent of executives felt the quality of leadership was either very good or good, compared to around 15 per cent of medics.

And 84 per cent of executive directors felt that their organisation was characterised by openness, honesty and challenge but only 37 per cent of doctors and 31 per cent of nurses felt the same.

The report concludes: “The survey consistently revealed a difference between the views of executive board members and the rest of their organisations.

“This suggests that boards are not in tune with how staff are feeling about their organisation.”

Nicola Hartley, director of leadership development at The King’s Fund, said: “The survey reveals a mixed picture of leadership and compassion in the NHS. The disconnect between the views of executive directors and other staff, especially nurses and doctors, is cause for concern.

“It is important that NHS organisations engage in dialogue and debate to achieve a shared understanding of the challenges they face and what the solutions are.

“Creating truly compassionate patient services requires collective leadership, where all staff take responsibility for the success of the organisation and that this is actively promoted by leaders in the organisation. All NHS organisations should make creating a collective leadership strategy a priority.”

Norman Williams, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said it was vital that staff avoided burying their heads in the sand when problems cropped up.

He added that addressing problems swiftly and effectively could prevent a deterioration in the quality of patient care.

Professor Williams backed a report accompanying the survey which calls on the NHS to foster better cultures of care by promoting a system of collective leadership in which all staff take on responsibility for their organisation’s success. He added that it was crucial that worries could be raised and acted upon openly, safely and speedily.