Two-thirds of NHS staff ‘can’t do job properly’

LESS than a third of NHS ­Lothian staff believe they can to do their job properly under present staffing levels, a major survey found.
The survey indicates there is a crisis over staffing levels at NHS Lothian. Picture: Ian GeorgesonThe survey indicates there is a crisis over staffing levels at NHS Lothian. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The survey indicates there is a crisis over staffing levels at NHS Lothian. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Financial pressures and difficulties recruiting are ­increasing pressures on ­already over-stretched staff, with a poll ­revealing that just 31 per cent felt they were flanked by enough employees.

And it emerged that abuse from patients or members of the public has also risen, with nearly four in ten reporting that they had experienced emotional or verbal ill-treatment over the last 12 months.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

More staff than ever took part in the national study – with 8356 respondents from Lothian – up 13 per cent up on last year.

It also emerged less than half felt able to meet conflicting demands on the job while only three in ten felt they were properly consulted about changes at work. However, there were improvements to many ­areas including bullying and harassment.

In 2012, the health board became embroiled in a high- profile scandal after an audit uncovered a culture of bullying. Measures taken to remedy a situation that led to the deliberate falsification of waiting list figures seem to be making inroads, with those claiming to have experienced bullying or harassment from management, dropping from 12 per cent to eight per cent in the past year.

Following publication of the report, chief executive James Barbour retired and chief ­operating officer Jackie Sansbury, who had responsibility for reporting figures to the NHS Lothian board, was demoted while Jane Todd, director of operations, was suspended and later sacked. Cases between colleagues have also fallen from 17 to 14 per cent.

Labour Lothians MSP Sarah Boyack said she welcomed the areas where staff felt there had been improvement, particularly on the issue of equal treatment of staff which she has made representations about to the board, on behalf of nurses.

She said: “However, I am concerned about the fact that less than half felt they were able to do their job because of the competing demands on them.

“There is clearly an issue here about staffing levels in the NHS which needs to be addressed urgently.”

More than nine in ten employees said they were happy to “go the extra mile” for the job and four-fifths said they intended to be working for the organisation in a year’s time.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Alan Boyter, director of ­human resources at NHS ­Lothian, said the findings were “encouraging.”

“We are delighted a record number of staff chose to take part in this survey and we are encouraged by the results, which are overwhelmingly positive. Out of 29 questions, we have seen improvements in 24 areas and we will analyse the findings further to help us continue to improve.

“We will also work with our trades unions and professional organisations to ensure that we address areas where staff have concerns as a matter of urgency.”

Tom Waterson, Unison branch chairman for Lothian, urged all staff members to have their say about working conditions at the health authority.

He said: “We always encourage staff to express themselves and I welcome the fact that more people have taken part.

“We will work with NHS ­Lothian to address areas where improvements can be made.”


The five most positive statements by staff are:

I am happy to go the ‘extra mile’ at work when required: 92% agree

I am clear what my duties and responsibilities are: 88% agree

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I still intend to be working with NHS Lothian in 12 months time: 80% agree

I get the help and support I need from colleagues: 80% agree

I understand how my work fits into the overall aims of NHS Lothian: 79% agree

Five least positive statements by staff are:

Staff are always consulted about changes at work: 30% agree

There are enough staff for me to do my job properly: 31% agree

I have a choice in deciding what I do at work: 42% agree

I can meet all the conflicting demands on my time at work: 43% agree

When changes are made at work, I am clear how they will work out in practice: 44% agree