27 October 2003
Aston examines 400,000 NHS staff
THE OPINIONS OF AROUND 400,000 NHS staff will be sought this week [starting Monday 27 October] to find out what they think of working for Europe's biggest employer.
In what is thought to be the largest survey1 of its kind anywhere in the world NHS staff from every Trust in England are being encouraged to speak their minds. Aston Business School (ABS2) - which is responsible for devising the questionnaires - has set up a special call centre to handle the deluge of calls that is expected from the survey's recipients. The survey results will tell Trusts about their staffs' views on their working conditions and the quality of the services they provide to patients. Survey responses will be treated confidentially and results will be made anonymous before publication. Not only will the published results allow NHS Trusts to compare themselves against other similar NHS organisations, they will also allow patients to make comparisons.
The information will also be used by the sector's independent watchdog, the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI3; to be succeeded by CHAI), in future inspections and in the formulation of the Trusts' star ratings in 2004.
ABS' Professor Mike West was chosen by CHI to lead the research because of his experience in working with the NHS. Prof West found that good staff management is associated with better outcomes for patients. The survey will allow benchmarking to promote good practice across the NHS. Prof Mike West said: 'This major initiative by CHI will provide extremely important information about the functioning of the NHS Trust and will enable ABS to provide clear direction for effective development of NHS Trusts to provide better patient care.'
�'At the same time,' he continued, 'we will be able to use the information to give clear guidance to the NHS on how to ensure the well-being and effectiveness of all those within the service.' The survey covers topics such as team working, work/life balance, errors and incidents and leadership and supervision. Trusts will also be able to add their own questions to get more local-level information.
Jocelyn Cornwell, CHI's acting chief executive, said: 'CHI's NHS workforce survey is the first to be organised on a nationwide basis. We want staff to tell us about the health of the NHS. Information about staffing and staff morale is critically important to good quality healthcare and healthy organisations are more successful in recruiting and keeping staff.' The survey will replace Trusts' own annual staff surveys and the CHI clinical governance review staff surveys. Having just one survey will reduce the administrative burden on NHS staff.
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Notes for editors
• approximately 380,000 NHS staff will be surveyed. More information is available at: www.nhsstaffsurveys.com
• for further information on Aston Business School visit its website: www.abs.aston.ac.uk/
• for further information on CHI visit its website: www.chi.nhs.uk/
• the survey period ends in December 2003 and CHI will publish results in February/March 2004
• in July 2003 CHI also published the results of its first patient survey: www.chi.gov.uk/eng/news/2003/jul/17.shtml
• this is a self completion survey of a random sample NHS staff and applies to England only
• staff not directly employed by the Trust, such as most GPs, outside contractors and bank staff will not be included in the survey
• CHI is an independent body set up to help the NHS monitor and improve clinical care across England and Wales
• CHI undertakes clinical governance reviews in every NHS organisation across England and Wales on a rolling programme. A clinical governance review is not designed to investigate individual complaints. Other mechanisms such as the individual organisation's complaints procedure, community health councils and the Health Service Ombudsman exist to deal with such cases
• CHI also investigates serious service failures in the NHS when requested by the Secretary for State for Health in England and the Welsh Assembly Government and will carefully consider other requests
• it is responsible for studies, which monitor and review the implementation of national service frameworks and National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance
• the minimum sample sizes required will depend on the size of the Trust, as follows: Trusts / primary care trusts (PCTs) with fewer than 750 employees are required to conduct a full census
Trusts / PCTs with 750 to 1,000 staff are required to sample 600 employees
Trusts / PCTs with 1,001 to 1,500 staff are required to sample 700 employees
Trusts / PCTs with 1,501 to 2,000 staff are required to sample 750 employees
Trusts / PCTs with 2,001 to 3,000 staff are required to sample 800 employees
Trusts / PCTs with more than 3,000 staff are required to sample 850 employees