Key survey finds NHS surviving on goodwill

The CSP is urging action to support and properly reward NHS staff after a survey highlighted understaffing, long hours and stubbornly high stress levels.


55% of NHS staff respondents have come to work despite not feeling well enough to perform duties

The 2016 NHS Staff Survey in England showed close to three quarters (70 per cent) of staff were working extra hours, with steady rises in both paid and unpaid overtime since 2012. In physiotherapy this figure is even higher at 78 per cent.

Nearly half (47 per cent) felt that there were not enough staff at their organisation for them to do their job properly. Furthermore, just over half (55 per cent) of staff felt that they have adequate supplies or equipment to do their job effectively.

MSK problems and stress

More than a quarter of staff reported experiencing MSK problems as a result of work activities, rising to 41 per cent in ambulance trusts. And those feeling unwell due to stress at work stands at 37 per cent.

The survey, which obtained 423,000 responses from 982,000 staff in 316 organisations, also found a rise in staff who had experienced physical violence from patients, relatives or the public in last 12 months, to a three year high, at just shy of 15 per cent.

Bullying and harassment levels remain worryingly high at 24 per cent.

It also indicated widespread frustration with work-life balance with little more than half (52 per cent) of NHS staff in England satisfied with the opportunities for flexible working.

Rising morale

Despite this, the survey also showed a steady rise in morale and positive engagement levels among a number of key indicators on a positive trend.

'These figures show an NHS surviving on the goodwill of staff,' said CSP director Claire Sullivan.

'The workforce is under real strain and yet the dedication of physiotherapy and other NHS staff to deliver the best possible care to patients remains clear.

'The acute underfunding of the NHS at a time of rising demand for health and care services is translating into unacceptable stress and pressure for staff.'

Staff deserve better

The rise in violence experienced by staff and the persistent levels of  bullying and harassment are  particularly concerning, Ms Sullivan said.
'NHS staff deserve better.'

She urged employers to work with unions locally to ensure staff feel safe and respected at work.

'While we know the funding squeeze will continue to bite until there is a change in government policy, employers can reward the dedication of staff in these tough times. They can agree tangible improvements to working lives such as flexible working for staff with caring responsibilities and other needs. And they can invest in occupational health services, where physiotherapy plays a major role, to help ensure a healthy working environment.'

Pinpoint the pressure

The CSP has a workplace campaign to tackle physiotherapy staff workloads and related stress.

Find out more from your local steward or safety rep as well as on the website

Watch this space for more about CSP activity on promoting flexible working.

Physiotherapy results in numbers

Breakdown for physiotherapy staff (around 11,000 responded)*

  • 78% worked extra hours (higher than the 72% average among all staff)
  • 59% do up to 5 hours unpaid overtime/week (8% do 5-10 hours; 2% do 11 or more hours)
  • Paid overtime: 22% did up to 5 hours / week; 6% 6-10 hours; 2% 11 or more hours
  • 55% have come to work despite not feeling well enough to perform duties in the last three months due to pressure from manager (18%) colleagues (16%) yourself (96%)
  • 52% said there wasn’t enough staff to do their job properly
  • 38% unable to meet all the conflicting demands of the job
  • 32% felt unwell due to work related stress in last 12 months
  • 30% didn’t have adequate materials, supplies or equipment to do their jobs
  • 27% experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from patients, relatives or the public in last 12 months
  • 22% suffered MSK problems
  • 14.8% experienced physical violence from patients, relatives or the public in last 12 months

*unweighted results

Full survey results, including trust-level data 



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