Longer working hours and bigger workloads affecting NHS morale

The NHS Together campaign is publishing research showing that NHS staff are working longer hours, have more work to do and are feeling increasingly demotivated and demoralised. Fewer than half of NHS staff would recommend their job or career to others. A survey of just under 25,000 employees working throughout the NHS found that over half the staff questioned (57 per cent) were working more than their contracted hours and over four-fifths (84 per cent) said that their workload had increased in the last year. Almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of staff working more than their contracted hours were not getting paid for this extra work. Citing the reasons for their extra workload, over three-quarters (77 per cent) blamed additional duties and responsibilities, nearly half (47 per cent) said it was down to insufficient sickness, maternity or holiday cover, and another 45 per cent identified vacancy freezes and redundancies as the cause. 

The survey – undertaken for the unions by Incomes Data Services – found that over half (54 per cent) the NHS staff questioned reported that their increased workload had lead to them experiencing increased levels of stress which was having a negative impact on their relationships with family and friends. Four in ten of the staff (42 per cent) who had more work to do said the extra stress was also damaging their health. 

Nearly two-thirds (61 per cent) of the NHS staff told researchers that their motivation and morale had worsened in the past twelve months, and almost the same number (60 per cent) had considered leaving their job in the last year. The most common reason for staff continuing to work in the NHS (59 per cent) was the belief that they were doing something worthwhile.

 Violence and harassment at work were sadly also commonplace, with four in ten (41 per cent) saying they had been the victims of violence or abuse in the past year. Nearly two-thirds (61 per cent) said they had been bullied or harassed by patients or their families. Ambulance staff were the most likely (79 per cent) to have experienced violence or abuse.


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