Workforce and Training

14.02.17

Doctors press for urgent action as workforce suffering winter morale crisis

The surgeon workforce has been feeling the impact of widespread winter pressures on the NHS this financial year, with more than half of surveyed staff listing low morale as the main issue they face at work.

A survey conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), which garnered responses from almost 3,500 members, found that not only do 51% of surgeons report growing concerns of low workplace morale, but that the issue is even more rampant amongst trainees – with almost two-thirds of them affected.

Two in five surgeons were also worried about increasing workloads, whilst 39% said they felt negative about the outlook of their surgical profession at the moment. This number was also higher amongst trainees, with 53% reporting negative feelings about their job.

Using the survey as evidence, the RCS has called for urgent action to address the widespread issue of low workplace morale, particularly in the hard-hit winter months.

The royal college’s president, Clare Marx, said it was right that the debate has so far largely been focused on patient care this winter, but emphasised that pressures have also been impacting NHS staff.

“The number of surgeons feeling negative about the profession and reporting low morale is worrying. Patient care suffers when our workforce is unhappy,” added Marx. “Surgeons tell us that a significant part of their dissatisfaction stems from seeing the problems that pressures on the health service cause for patients.

“For example, it is heartbreaking for doctors to have to tell a patient their surgery is cancelled, especially as the patients and their families have prepared for what is often a very major event, yet this is happening on an increasingly regular basis.”

She acknowledged that as doctors, they always want the best for their patients – but growing workloads and insufficient staffing numbers to plug demand means this isn’t always possible.

The junior doctor dispute last year also left morale throughout our hospital workforce at a low and we’re now hearing from trainee surgeons that current pressures mean they are also missing out on vital training opportunities,” said Marx.

“Ultimately the NHS and social care need more funding to cope with rising demand, but there are also a number of practical short-term measures that we can take to improve morale.”

In a statement alongside the survey results, the RCS listed a combination of both immediate and long-term actions that should be taken to address these ongoing issues.

Within trusts, this included using consultants to boost morale by showing greater leadership and mentoring and supporting staff in training; implementing a zero-tolerance workplace culture towards bullying; providing better out-of-hours support for staff, including at weekends, such as the availability of canteens and crèches; providing sufficient notice at rota, for example by using online polls to do advance planning; and introducing the Schwartz Rounds, which give clinical and non-clinical employees a regular forum to air the emotional and social aspects of working in healthcare.

But national leaders weren’t left out either, with the RCS claiming that the current focus on financial and performance pressures within the health system “undoubtedly” being a culprit for low morale. It argued these wider issues must be addressed if the NHS wants to cultivate a more positive and higher-performing workforce.

Similarly, morale should be tackled by investing further in personal development and training, such as by developing clinical leadership and management opportunities and skills.

The royal college also advised NHS England to engage clinicians and patients in the significant changes taking place across the health service under the STPs.

Its survey coincidentally comes just a day after health groups launched a warning that delays to operations due to bed shortages have left surgeons “kicking their heels” as they wait for capacity to open up for surgery. In a letter to the Sunday Times, Marx, alongside NHS Providers CEO Chris Hopson, identified underfunding as a major culprit. 

 

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an NHE columnist? If so, click here.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

MS Society announces 13 new tech projects worth £1.3m

06/12/2019MS Society announces 13 new tech projects worth £1.3m

Multiple Sclerosis Society (MS Society) announced this week (Dec 3) that they are committed to raising £1.3m to fund 13 new research projec... more >
Nuffield Trust: One in four hospital staff born outside of the UK

06/12/2019Nuffield Trust: One in four hospital staff born outside of the UK

New statistics analysed by Nuffield Health show that people born outside the UK make up for almost a quarter of all staff working in hospitals an... more >
Moulding The Future With 3D Printing

06/12/2019Moulding The Future With 3D Printing

Source : NHE Nov/Dec   Professor Peter Marsden, head of Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering, UCLH 3D printing i... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), sits down with National Health Executive as part of our Last Word Q&A series. Would you talk us th... more > more last word articles >

the scalpel's daily blog

Caregivers are looking for meaningful work

03/12/2019Caregivers are looking for meaningful work

Ergotron EMEA discusses how they can support organisations to make caregivers’ work meaningful and promote better wellbeing. Caregivers always focus on sharing their dedication to their patients. However, this choice is unfortunately not always up to expectations: the lack of staff, the demanding workload, the system’s digital... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

23/09/2019NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

Reason to celebrate as NHS says watching rugby can be good for your mental health and wellbeing. As the best rugby players in the world repr... more >
Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Being on the receiving end of some “thanks” can make communit... more >
Nurses named as least-appreciated public sector workers

13/06/2019Nurses named as least-appreciated public sector workers

Nurses have been named as the most under-appreciated public sector professionals as new research reveals how shockingly under-vauled our NHS, edu... more >
Helpforce to launch training programmes for NHS volunteers

10/06/2019Helpforce to launch training programmes for NHS volunteers

Kay Fawcett OBE, clinical advisor and education lead at Helpforce, and Lynn Twinn, talent development consultant, outline the new national traini... more >

interviews

Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

24/10/2019Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

Today, speaking at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) annual conference, Matt Hancock highlighted what he believes to be the three... more >
NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

17/09/2019NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

Over 20 years ago, a Teesside hospital cleaner put down her mop and took steps towards her midwifery dreams. Lisa Payne has been delivering ... more >
How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

24/10/2018How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

A dedicated national social care service could be a potential solution to surging demand burdening acute health providers over the winter months,... more >
RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

24/10/2018RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

The president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has told NHE that the college’s new headquarters based in Liverpool will become a hu... more >

health service focus

View all News