Managers have been called on to demonstrate how they act on staff feedback after a survey found fewer than half of employees felt trusts communicated with them clearly.

The Healthcare Commission’s sixth annual staff survey has highlighted a number of improvements during the past year. Seventy one per cent of respondents in 2008 said hand-washing materials were “always” available when needed, up from 61 per cent in 2007. And the proportion of staff reporting bullying, harassment or abuse from patients or relatives dropped three per cent to 26 per cent. But many workers were unclear about the wider vision for the health service.

Fewer than half (47 per cent) of staff said their trust communicates clearly on its goals, with one in five saying it did not communicate clearly and a third saying they were neutral.

Just over half of staff said they understood the national vision for the NHS and knew how their trust contributed to this.

Lessons to learn

Commission chief executive Anna Walker said: “There are lessons to learn from this survey about leadership, management and teamwork. Staff feel informed, but not involved in decisions that affect their working life and they don’t feel valued by their trust.”

The proportion of staff saying they knew how their role contributed to what the trust was trying to achieve was 55 per cent.

But managers said they were overloaded with demands from officials. Managers in Partnership chief executive Jon Restell said: “The centre really has to take some responsibility because it’s hogging the attention of managers to the extent that they don’t have the time to spend with their own staff.”

Primary care trust managers were focusing on splitting commissioner and provider functions, while provider trusts still had to manage a wide range of targets, he said.

DH director general of workforce Clare Chapman said she was pleased with the overall findings. She said: “It is for NHS organisations, leaders and individual managers to support staff in understanding the contribution they make to their organisation and the NHS as a whole.”

Trust managers needed to sit down with staff to discuss survey results, she said.

2008 staff survey

  • 28 per cent reported stress
  • 83 per cent were “satisfied” with the standard of care they provided
  • 23 per cent were unable to do their job to a standard they were “personally pleased” with
  • 90 per cent felt their role made a difference to patients
  • 47 per cent said their trust communicated clearly on its goals
  • 26 per cent said senior managers did not act on feedback
  • 71 per cent said hand-washing materials were “always” available when needed

More on the NHS staff survey