Unions say NHS Staff Survey is ‘a line in the sand’

Published: Thursday 12th March 2015 by KCFM

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Officials at the UNISON union say the results of the latest NHS Staff Survey show the health service in East Yorkshire needs more support.

The 2014 results show 37% of staff who responded at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service had worked whilst ill – 32% at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and 21% at Humber NHS Trust reported the same.

35% from Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals said they’d been victims of bullying or harassment, with 25% from Yorkshire Ambulance Service and 22% from Humber NHS Trust saying the same.

20% from Yorkshire Ambulance Service felt they’d been discriminated against, as well as 15% from Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals and 10% from Humber NHS Trust.

Meanwhile, only 12% of staff responding from Yorkshire Ambulance Service reported good communication between staff, as well as just 23% from Humber NHS Trust and 25% from Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals.

The figures for Yorkshire Ambulance service did compare favourably with other Ambulance Services, however.

Ray Gray, who represents East Yorkshire NHS workers in the UNISON union, says the figures show the impact of government spending cuts on the health service. He says the NHS, and community services, need more resources so staff, managers and unions can work together to improve things:

“This has to be the line that’s drawn in the sand where we say, it cannot get any worse than this. Where staff are needed, they need to recruit them. Where there are bullies, they need to sack them. Where there are inefficiencies, we will work with management to try and deal with those. It needs money, and the whole service, in its entirety, needs to be looked at.”

“If you chuck money at bits of it, it won’t work. Trying to improve A&E is good, but it won’t work unless you improve the wards that take the patients from A&E. If you don’t improve the community care, people just end up stuck in hospital. It’s a vicious circle.”

“The government claim they’re giving the NHS more money, but at the same time they’re taking more out of it, through cost-savings and efficiencies. The NHS is getting smaller and smaller, but the workload isn’t staying the same. Look at Hull – it’s a growing city, so the population is growing, and the health demand is growing with it – but the service itself is shrinking.”

Ian Brandwood, Executive Director of People and Engagement at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust said,

“Whilst our results are similar to other ambulance trusts, we are concerned by some of the findings in the staff survey and already have plans in place to tackle the issues raised. There is a real balance to be struck between supporting and managing attendance and the pressures staff feel to be at work and tackling the fact that the ambulance service has the highest absence rate in the NHS.

“The recent increased demand for our services has put additional pressure on our staff and we are currently looking to invest £3.7m to increase 999 capacity to reduce this pressure and ensure patients are put first at all times.”

Chris Long, Chief Executive at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust says:

“Naturally we are very disappointed with the results of our Staff Survey this year but, at the same time, they have not come as a surprise. I have spent time in a number of different departments, talking to staff at all levels, since joining the organisation in October.  If I have learned anything in my first four months with the Trust, it’s that, whilst our staff are undoubtedly professional and committed, the culture in our hospitals is not as healthy as we would like it to be.

“The Trust executive team has met and agreed an approach to improving the cultural health of our organisation which is essential if we are to see improvements in quality of care, patient experience, targets and finance. There are no quick fixes for these kinds of issues, although there may be some actions we can take within a short timescale that will have an instant impact.

“We have been working on a longer-term plan for some time now which will, amongst other things, focus on role-modelling positive behaviours throughout our organisation, recruiting to vacancies to ease the pressure felt by staff, and instilling a greater sense of pride in our hospitals and the excellent care that our staff provide every day.

“We have already shown, through the recent work we’ve undertaken to tackle issues of bullying, that the best way of addressing cultural issues is to listen to the concerns of our staff, to act upon those concerns, and ensure we engage our staff side colleagues. We will adopt a similar approach as we strive to improve the working lives of our staff and enable them to deliver the care that they aspire to.

“We know our staff come to work, day in, day out, wanting to do a good job, and we need to create a culture and environment which enables them to flourish, both personally and professionally. Ultimately it is our patients who will benefit from an improvement to the culture in our hospitals, and it is understanding and accepting that fact which will help us to deliver a change for the better.”

David Hill, Chief Executive of Humber NHS Foundation said:

“We are delighted to see this year’s staff survey results show the percentage of staff appraised within our Trust is significantly higher than the national average (93%). We believe the delivery of high-quality patient care critically depends on our staff having a clear understanding of their role and the part they play in their team and organisation and appraisals help us achieve this.

“We were also pleased to see that the percentage of our staff that have experienced harassment, bullying, physical violence or abuse from patients, relatives or the public is lower than the national average figure for mental health and learning disability trusts. We have maintained this with a proactive approach to preventing and managing challenging behaviour supported by regular training with guidance on approaches to deal competently with violent and aggressive behaviour.

“The survey also points out areas where we could do better. Despite our investment in a leadership and management development programme, we need to further improve communication between senior management and staff.

“As an organisation we have made a number of organisational changes over the last few years and in the last 12 months our senior leadership team has completely changed. I personally have already engaged with several hundred colleagues with the intention of getting them involved in influencing the future shape and structure of the organisation. I have listened to the views of staff and am putting in place the foundations to create a more integrated way of working to empower staff to develop innovation and take forward ideas for service improvement. This will involve looking at how we can work together as one with a clear vision, values and priorities that reflect the needs of our patients. I appreciate that all of this set against a context of an increasingly squeezed NHS has led to uncertainty, concern, and apprehension for those who are not sure what to expect.

“Another improvement priority for us is increasing the number of staff receiving Equality and Diversity training. This figure is low and although it is mitigated by an increase in the percentage of staff believing the trust provides equal opportunities for career progression or promotion, we will work to resolve this issue through our review of training initiatives. Equality and Diversity training is embedded within all of our training and codes of practice.

“Over the coming months, we will analyse the staff survey data in detail and develop an action plan for areas we can improve.”

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Published: Thursday 12th March 2015 by KCFM

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