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Revealed: NHS Staff Survey Results 2021

Tired surgeon after the operation

NHS England published it’s 2021 Staff Survey last month, with results emphasising the demand and challenges faced by NHS employees.

The survey which was completed by over 648,000 NHS employees saw a widespread dip in numbers from previous years but positive responses around team working highlight the togetherness of staff –  81.4% enjoy working with their colleagues in their team and 71.3% feel that team members understand each other’s roles.

Interestingly, with public satisfaction dropping to its lowest point in 25 years, it seems NHS staff are tending to agree, with only 67.8% of employees being happy with the standard of care provided by their organisation – a 6% decrease from 2020.

Key trends include:

  • – Increase in stress and burnout
  • – Notable increases across work pressure and workload
  • – Negative staff experience with low staff engagement
  • – Staff attending work when unwell
  • – A decline in health and wellbeing measures


Investing in the Workforce

One of the priorities set out in the NHS 2022/23 priorities and operational planning guidance is to ‘invest in the workforce – with more people and new ways of working, and by strengthening the compassionate and inclusive culture needed to deliver outstanding care.’

Recruitment and retention of NHS staff is becoming increasingly difficult with the latest statistics showing nearly 100,000 NHS vacancies (nearly 70,000 of these in the Acute sector) and a vacancy rate of 7.6%.

Staff engagement is currently lower than in previous years, scoring 6.8 points, but prior to the results of the survey, the planning guidance had already outlined several operational targets to support the health and wellbeing of staff, improve belonging, work differently and grow for the future; culminating in the vision to make the NHS a more desirable place to work, showing they are already understanding of the need to improve the way of working for staff.

Enabling NHS staff

A key theme here will need to be ‘enablement’ – how do we ensure NHS staff have the tools, interactions and communication to enable them to work more effectively? Currently, only 53.1% feel able to make improvements happen in their area of work, which has been declining over the past few years and over half of the respondents (55.1%) are able to access the right learning and development opportunities when they need to.

Possibly the most worrying of all stats is that almost half (46.5%) of the respondents said they feel worn out at the end of their working day/shift. If the NHS is there to look after the population, who is going to look after the NHS?

Whether it’s streamlining processes or introducing new technology, improving the productivity and efficiency of the NHS will be critical to maintaining the interest and motivations of the workforce.

We know that organic change within the NHS is notoriously slow but it is clear that change will need to be expedited in order to keep up with market forces that are currently luring NHS staff away from the institution.

Supporting the NHS workforce

One of the reasons Four Eyes Insight exists is to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the NHS to identify inefficiencies and implement improvement plans for sustainable change, empowering the workforce to have confidence that they are able to meet – or even exceed targets set out by the NHS.

Our people are experts in their respective fields, combining clinical and operational expertise to deliver data-driven improvements to the NHS.  Many of our consultants have held NHS roles before joining Four Eyes Insight, giving us a unique view of the operational challenges that need to be resolved.

To learn more about the NHS staff survey, click here.