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NHS survey reveals pressures on staff as most in Suffolk do extra unpaid hours

PUBLISHED: 17:30 01 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:24 02 March 2019

Ipswich Hospital Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich Hospital Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Most of Suffolk’s NHS staff are working additional unpaid hours with many feeling the effects of work-based stress, it has been revealed.

West Suffolk Hospital: Picture: GREGG BROWNWest Suffolk Hospital: Picture: GREGG BROWN

Results of last year’s NHS Staff Survey were published recently, where staff were asked for their thoughts on a variety of issues affecting their work, revealing the pressures they face.

Almost two thirds (63pc) of staff at East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) said they had worked additional unpaid hours, with 41.5pc saying they had felt unwell due to work-based stress in the last year. A further 59.5pc said they had come into work despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties.

A spokesman for ESNEFT said: “This year’s national NHS staff survey results are the first we have had as a new organisation bringing together almost 10,000 staff across eight sites and serving communities of around one million people.

“The survey was carried out a very short time after the new Trust was created and in many ways reflects the uncertainty and change faced by many colleagues.

“The survey gives us valuable insights into how staff are feeling and thinking. We clearly have much more to do.”

At West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT), 57pc of staff had worked unpaid hours while 34.9pc reported suffering work-based stress.

However, it scored highest in the country against other acute hospital trusts for giving staff control over how they do their work.

Jan Bloomfield, executive director of workforce and communications, said: “Our staff are our most important asset and we need to make sure they are cared for as well as our patients.

“They regularly go the extra mile, particularly over the winter months where we have seen an increase in demand and a high number of very unwell patients who genuinely need hospital care.

“Equally our colleagues working out in the community and in people’s homes have also been working hard.

“We take staff feedback seriously and believe there is always room for improvement.

“We absolutely recognise the importance of this issue and as such are taking action to reduce the impact of work related stress.”

Anthony Dooley, spokesman for Suffolk Unite Community, said the government need to provide real additional funding to the NHS to relieve pressure on staff.

He said: “Clearly, the survey indicates how important it is not to just have a photoshoot and say changes must be made.

“Actions speak louder than words.”

At Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) 63pc had worked extra unpaid hours while 46.3pc reported feeling unwell through work stress.

Stuart Richardson, chief operating officer at NSFT said: “While we’ve made some very small improvements in a number of areas since the last staff survey, these still aren’t good enough and our performance hasn’t really changed much in other aspects.

“The results show just how far we have to go.”

At the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) more than half - 57.5pc - said they had felt unwell due to work placed stress with more than 50pc of staff saying they “often think” about leaving the trust – compared to an average of 38.9pc in other ambulance services.

Dorothy Hosein, interim EEAST chief executive, said: “I would like to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey.

“It is really important staff have their say so we can hear their views on areas where we need to make improvements.

“Overall the results are very similar to 2017, and I am disappointed we have not seen more improvement.”

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, said: “We know from the things that people tell us that they often struggle with gaining access to services, for example mental health services or seeing a GP.

“These figures about NHS staff are therefore reflective of what we know to be existing and systemic pressures within our local health and social care services.

“We must recognise that the challenges faced by our local NHS and care services are significant, complex and diverse.

“Whilst the commitments to funding and parity in the recently published NHS Long Term Plan are positive, the ultimate success of it relies critically on tackling these long standing and deep-rooted problems such as the highly challenging workforce shortages across services.

“Funding and the NHS alone will not resolve these issues and many of the factors that impact upon them sit far outside of the control of the NHS.

“Healthwatch Suffolk is aware, and supportive, of various local efforts to meet some of the workforce issues faced by our local services such as the diversification of GP practice professionals.”

To have a look at the results of the NHS Staff Survey yourself see here.

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