• Share of staff reporting incidents of harm increases three per centage points
  • Safety culture questions show an upward trend
  • More than a third of staff are satisfied with their salary, a large increase

The proportion of NHS staff witnessing an error, near miss or other safety incident has reached its highest level for five years, the NHS staff survey has revealed.

The annual survey of staff working in NHS organisations found more than a quarter of workers, 27.8 per cent, said they had seen an error that could have harmed patients or service users in the previous month.

This is three percentage points higher than in 2017 and the highest proportion for five years, half a percentage point higher than in 2014. Staff seeing incidents endangering staff have also increased for the second year in a row.


Seen an error that could have harmed patients in the previous month

Almost 81 per cent of staff said they were satisfied with the quality of care they give to patients, down from 83 per cent in 2016.

However, there was an improving trend in questions looking at the safety culture within NHS organisations. There was a four percentage point rise in staff saying their organisation treats staff who are involved in an error, near miss or incident fairly at 58.2 per cent. 

More than 70 per cent of staff agreed their organisation takes action to ensure reported errors, near misses or incidents do not happen again, up two percentage points since 2017.

And there were improvements in staff saying they would be confident raising a concern about unsafe care and that their employer would address issues raised.

On bullying and harassment the staff survey showed:

  • More than a quarter of staff, 28.1 per cent, experienced at least one incident of bullying, harassment or abuse from patients or the public in the last 12 months.
  • A total of 13.2 per cent of staff said they had been bullied, harassed or abused by managers in the past year.
  • Almost one in five staff, 19 per cent, said they had been bullied, harassed or abused by their colleagues in the previous year.

Other key results from the staff survey include:

  • Around 70 per cent of staff of were satisfied with the support they got from their immediate managers.
  • Almost 7 per cent of NHS staff reported personally experiencing discrimination at work in the last 12 months from member of the public and patients while more than 8 per cent reporting discrimination from managers and colleagues.
  • There has been a 5 per centage point increase in staff reporting they were satisfied with their salary at 36 per cent with 56 per cent of staff reporting they were happy with the recognition they get for good work, 4 per centage points up on 2017.
  • More than half of staff said they were satisfied with opportunities for flexible working. According to the survey results all trust types saw a positive change on this, with increases of 1 or 2 percentage points.
  • There has been an overall decline in the proportion of staff working additional unpaid hours but still close to three out of five staff, or 57.8 per cent, work extra unpaid hours on a weekly basis.

The annual staff survey doesn’t include primary care staff or those working in national NHS organisations.