NHS staff in Scotland feel less satisfied in their work than in previous years, with many believing patient care is not their employers’ priority.
The NHS Scotland 2013 staff survey of more than 44,000 workers saw a drop in the number who would recommend their health board as a good place to work, and lower numbers feeling a sense of achievement compared to 2010.
The NHS Scotland report also highlighted concerns about staff numbers and conflicting demands on employees’ time, as well as an increase in bullying.
It said the results suggested “an overall dip in employee satisfaction from 2010 to 2013”.
Only 55 per cent of staff agreed that care of patients was their board’s priority, down from 63 per cent in 2010. Results varied between staff groups, with 48 per cent of doctors and 45 per cent of nurses and midwives saying this was the top priority, dropping to just 29 per cent of ambulance crew staff.
Only 50 per cent overall said they would recommend their board as a good place to work, down from 58 per cent in 2010.
Responses ranged between professions, with 41 per cent of nurses and 47 per cent of doctors recommending their board but only 25 per cent of ambulance crews. Only 60 per cent of staff were satisfied with the sense of achievement they got from work, down from 71 per cent, and only 48 per cent felt they were kept informed about what was happening in the board, down from 58 per cent.
There was an improvement in feelings about staffing levels, but still only 31 per cent felt there were enough staff to allow them to do their job properly, up from 28 per cent. Only 42 per cent said they were able to meet the conflicting demands on their time.
On a more positive note, 87 per cent said they were happy to go the “extra mile” at work, although this was a drop from 88 per cent in the last survey.
Royal College of Nursing Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said: “The fact that less than half of our nurses and midwives feel that boards have care of patients as their top priority is a damning indictment of the government’s stated aim to make NHS a world-class patient-centred organisation.
“The results of both the NHS staff survey and our own employment survey paint a picture of an NHS where nursing and midwifery staff are trying to do their best and deliver high-quality care for their patients, yet the systems, attitudes and the daily pressures are all stacked against them. This survey is a wake-up call for Scotland’s health boards.”
The survey revealed an increase in staff who had experienced bullying or harassment from management, up from 10 to 11 per cent, and from colleagues up from 13 to 15 per cent.
The survey found higher levels of bullying or harassment among ambulance crews, with 18 per cent reporting bullying by management and 23 per cent by colleagues in the last year.
A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) said: “The SAS is totally committed to a culture that is open and honest, treats people with respect, challenges discrimination or harassment and puts the patient at the heart of everything we do.
“The work of ambulance crews is distinct from the rest of the NHS and care is often delivered in the most challenging of situations. Staff are busier than ever before and in these difficult economic times we are undergoing significant changes.”
Public health minister Michael Matheson said: “There can be no doubt our staff are the heart of our NHS. The many achievements of our NHS are down to them and the dedication they show. We want every member of staff to know that we will do everything we can to ensure they feel supported.
“The results have given us important feedback on areas of progress, but more importantly where we need to focus to make improvements.”