Staff retention is one of the biggest challenges the NHS is facing right now. According to an analysis by the Nuffield Trust, 40,000 nurses left the NHS in the past year up until June 2022 – the highest number since records began. For GPs, burnout, issues around job satisfaction and physical working conditions have been cited as key factors contributing to increased GP turnover over the past decade. More than one in eight NHS staff (13%) reported having experienced discrimination at work in 2020.
On top of this, the NHS staff survey reported that 12% of staff experienced bullying, harassment or abuse from managers in the previous 12 months, and 19% of staff experienced those behaviours from fellow colleagues. An increased proportion of clinicians are reporting their intention to leave the service. Of those who have left, pay, working conditions, and feeling under huge pressure were given as reasons for leaving the NHS.
The above paints a stark picture of what it’s really like working in the NHS at the present time, all whilst demand on services has never been higher following the backlog left by the Covid-19 pandemic. Time is already running out in the Government’s target to recruit 50,000 more nurses by 2024 (the total recruited currently stands at just half this amount so far with data suggesting the target could be missed by as much as 10,000), and recent findings by The King’s Fund concluded that the new recruits would have very little impact on the overall picture, due to the substantial numbers of nurses leaving the profession.
Whilst pay is a major contributing factor to people leaving the NHS, this is outside of the control of organisations, and is something which the Government must tackle. However, something which can be resolved internally are the working conditions – 68.5% of clinicians who surrender their medical licences do so for reasons of “stress, burnout, bullying, or poor workplace culture”, with 7% of doctors doing so within three years of qualifying according to the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee Workforce: recruitment, training and retention in health and social care, Third Report of Session 2022-2023.
The work we’ve been doing throughout the pandemic and beyond aligns very much to this narrative. The pandemic added huge pressures at every level, especially within primary and secondary care, and this has often resulted in poor behaviours being played out in the workplace. The changes in the way we’ve had to work, for example with remote working, have changed the dynamics of working relationships, and therefore organisational cultures have shifted. Many of our own personal values have changed since the beginning of the pandemic too, with people recognising that different things are now important to them as a result, and this has a knock on effect on our organisational values, which are now out of touch with the lived experience that staff have working in their organisation.
Our work has shown the importance of renewing organisational focus on creating positive and inclusive working environments, cultures and climates that welcome, support and nurture the whole workforce, creating an organisation that every member of staff feels they truly belong to. One of the ways that we can achieve this is working collaboratively with staff to understand what it is really like to work in the organisation, understanding the challenges which are within our control that can be changed and improved, and co-designing and co-creating better working environments.
Our bespoke digital ‘Insight’ platform acts as a listening tool and can support with just that, offering an organisation wide, inclusive approach in getting to the heart of the workplace cultures, collecting real experiences of issues on the ground, and codesigning solutions to improving them. Tried and tested, this approach has proven successful in unlocking answers and empowering staff to lead change for better outcomes.
If you want to find out more about how Insight can help your organisation with culture change, drop us a line – we’d love to help!