In 2015, Sir Robert Francis completed the second of his two reports for the government into failures at the Mid Staffordshire NHS foundation trust he had this to say:

“The message from staff who have suffered as a result of raising concerns has been loud and clear. I heard shocking accounts of the way some people have been treated when they have been brave enough to speak up. I witnessed at  first hand their distress and the strain on them and, in some cases, their families. I heard about the pressures it can place on other members of a team, on managers, and in some cases the person about whom a concern is raised.”

Sir Robert Francis

Since then WorkInConfidence have been using the annual NHS Staff Survey to track any changes in key areas around speaking up in the NHS. Here we look at the key measures we have been tracking from the latest 2018 results.

Communication between staff and management

A first glance at the following chart and you may well assume that there has been steady progress in this area. In fact, while there has been improvement, it is only 3% – from 31.33% in 2015 to 34.1% in the latest figures. But, while there is still a long way to go, it is moving in the right direction consistently. Keep in mind that 3% represents about 34,000 more people reporting good communication.

Discrimination, harassment, bullying and abuse

A perennial problem for the NHS and one that the Francis report specifically mentioned is that is of bullying.

“Bullying is something I heard a lot about, and it is undoubtedly a problem … Managers are sometimes so pressurised that they react in ways they wouldn’t do normally.”

Sir Robert Francis

Nearly 25% of staff still experienced some form of harassment, bullying or abuse over the last 12 months. This is a very marginal change of only 0.64% from last year although the graph below makes it look as if the change is much greater.

What is concerning is the number of staff that go on to report their experience of harassment, bullying or abuse is dropping. Since we started following these measures from the NHS staff surveys, there has been just under a 7% reduction in the number of staff reporting.

It is easy to forget when looking at percentages that even a small number here can equate to a large number of people. The 3% drop in people reporting over the last 12 months equates to approximately 34,000 people.

Finding the positives

Of course in among all these numbers some Trusts fair better than others. The following is the top five most improved Trusts based on our combined score for communication and reporting measures. The higher the number, the more improved. So well done to Humber NHS Foundation Trust!

Is your local Trust one of these five? Want to see how your Trust has scored in the latest NHS staff survey? To see results on our key measures for your or any other Trust, simply click on the link below and enter the name of the Trust you wish to look at.

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Protect: Anonymous Speak Up: A safe and secure way for your people to anonymously raise concerns via phone, tablet, or PC, ensuring you are aware of any workplace issues and can respond quickly and accordingly

Consolidated Case Management: A secure online place to record, track, update, and report on all speaking up matters, whether raised through WorkInConfidence or directly.

Surveys: Easily set up, run and interpret surveys on engagement, respect, wellness or other topics to ensure you always understand your people, their needs and motivations.

Discussion Boards: Demonstrate your commitment to collaboration with discussion boards to accelerate employee engagement and gain greater insights – anonymous if required.