Hospital staff morale 'improves' despite workload and pay strikes

Kath Griffin.Kath Griffin.
Kath Griffin.
Morale among hospital staff in South Tyneside has risen in the last year - despite widespread industrial action and feelings of frustration growing nationally, new figures show.

The results of the 2022 NHS Staff Survey – carried out in the autumn – show showed positive improvement at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, which runs South Tyneside District Hospital and Sunderland Royal Hospital.

The data shows staff morale was above the national average – in the NHS.

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Over 3,200 of the Trust’s 8,500 staff took part in the survey, with:

* 74% agreeing that the care of patients is the Trust’s key priority.

*88% feeling able to report errors, near misses or incidents.

*71% of felt the Trust respected individual differences such as cultures, working styles and backgrounds.

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*30.2% of staff were happy with their current salaries last year – down from 34.8% the year before.

Morale among staff was scored at 5.8 out of 10 – up from 5.7 the year before.

Nationally, the overall morale score – a composite score of 13 questions, focusing on stress, work pressure and desire to leave – fell to its lowest point in the five years.

Morale was scored at 5.7, down from 5.8 last year and a peak of 6.1 in 2020.

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Last year, the Trust launched a staff engagement programme – the BIG Team Talk – to involve the workforce in setting it’s plans for the future and says, while it is committed to improving staff experience, it admits there is still much more to do.

Kath Griffin, the Trust’s executive director of human resources and organisational development, said: “It is very encouraging to see our results moving in the right direction and we now want to build on that momentum.

“We know a happy and engaged workforce can have such a positive impact, not only for staff themselves but also for our patients. It is so important that we do all we can to look after our people and support them to be the best they can be.”

She added: “We want people to feel proud to work here, proud to recommend our services and proud to be part of our team. That means we must keep listening and improving the care and support we offer our colleagues.”

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Nationally, the survey shows just 25.6% of staff were satisfied with their current level of pay – the lowest level in five years and substantially down on a peak of 38% in 2019.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, which represents NHS staff, said: "It is no surprise that, after several months of industrial action by people who have worked through extraordinary challenges over the past few years, that they have expressed their feelings of deep frustration.

"It is concerning to see that 17% of staff considering leaving and despite the continuing efforts of health leaders to recruit and retain employees, the numbers willing to recommend the NHS as an employer has also dropped."

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: "I am hugely grateful to all NHS staff for their hard work.

"We’re also making progress to recruit more staff, with more than 4,900 doctors and almost 11,100 more nurses compared to a year ago.”

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