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Third of NHS staff felt ill due to work related stress in 2012

A third of NHS staff have reported they felt unwell as a result of work related stress in 2012.

The findings come from the 2012 NHS staff survey, which published its results today.

It includes a number of staff engagement indicators as well as an overall staff engagement score.

Despite the high figure of illness due to work related stress, just under half (43%) of NHS staff reported that their organisation takes positive action on health and wellbeing.

The survey also showed that 15% of staff overall reported experiencing physical violence from patients, patients' relatives or other members of the public in the previous 12 months. A figure Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation believes we should be "outraged" at, especially in such a "demanding job".

The annual NHS staff survey, surveyed more than 100,000 members of NHS staff between September and December 2012.

Responding to the survey results, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) believe more needs to be done to "improve communication" by senior management and consultation with NHS employees on important decisions.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, said: "For employee engagement and innovation to thrive, and for whistleblowers to feel protected, it's important to create an open culture where senior managers consult staff about key decisions and employees trust their managers enough to be able to express their views whether asked for them or not."

The CIPD also claim the findings highlight that more work needs to be done to ensure that all staff are confident that senior managers will act on concerns highlighted by employees – a problem highlighted by the recent Francis report into the public inquiry into Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

The survey showed that while 86% of NHS staff felt encouraged by their organisation to report errors and near misses, only 61% thought action was taken to prevent similar errors occurring in the future.

Other key findings from the survey showed that job satisfaction is slightly up from last year with just over three-quarters of staff (78%) satisfied with the support they receive from colleagues and 74% satisfied with the amount of responsibility they are given (up from 71% in 2011).

The survey found an increase in the proportion of staff saying they are able to make suggestions on how they could improve the work of their team or department is seen (74%, compared with 69% in 2011) and 69% felt that they have frequent opportunities to show initiative in their role (compared with 61%, in 2011).

The overall score for levels of staff engagement have increased from 3.63 to 3.67 and there has been an improvement in willingness of staff to recommend their organisation as a place to work.

Royles believes the results from the survey show NHS resilience. He said that given the concerns expressed after the Francis report about NHS culture it's important these figures are available "transparently" and open to the public to "scrutinse".

Royles said: "It's a remarkable achievement that staff report improvements in so many areas, crucially including overall levels of patient care.

"Amid all the uncertainties and concerns around the Health and Social Care Bill, efficiency drives, industrial action, pay freezes and pension increases these are a set of good results.

"They also note that appraisals, staff engagement and job satisfaction have got better and this really is a credit to the effort and skill of HR teams in the NHS and the work they do with staff."

Royles added: "There are clearly some areas where we can improve. Staff are showing concerns about stress and longer working hours. The NHS resolutely needs to explore new approaches in its efforts to build a culture where staff feel confident to report concerns.

"In particular we should all be outraged that staff are still subject to violence and abuse when trying to do some of the country's most demanding jobs.

"I believe the way we have worked with trade unions on some very challenging issues provides an ideal base on which to jointly work on these issues and can make a real difference to patient care."