Ambulance staff health and wellbeing highlighted in latest survey findings

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is the top-rated ambulance service in England for acting upon concerns raised by patients and service users, according to the latest NHS Staff Survey results.

It also came top for embedding Trust values as part of the employee appraisal and development process.

The NHS staff survey is an annual survey which provides employees with the opportunity to have their say about their workplace and informs the Trust about areas for improvement and help it to implement change and improvement in the coming year.

In all, 47% of NEAS staff responded to the survey which covered 10 main themes:  equality, diversity and inclusion; health and wellbeing; immediate managers; morale; quality of appraisals; quality of care; safe environment – bullying and harassment; safe environment – violence; safety culture; and staff engagement.

Significant improvements have been made over the last year in the Trust’s safety culture, the quality of employee appraisals and making the health and wellbeing of staff one of its top priorities.

Among the key findings in the survey were:

  • 95% of staff would know how to report concerns of unsafe clinical practise.
  • 93% of staff share the NEAS values and understand the behaviours needed to bring them to life.
  • 90% of NEAS staff believe the Trust is taking positive action on staff health and wellbeing.
  • One of highest scores in the sector was that 85% of staff feel their manager supports them to receive development.
  • 89% of staff feel that their role makes a difference to patients and service users.
  • 76% of staff would be happy if a friend or relative was cared for by NEAS.
  • 75% of staff are satisfied with line manager support.
  • 68% of staff feel safe raising concerns.
  • 49% of staff would recommend NEAS as a place of work.
  • 10% of staff experienced discrimination at work from a patient or service user, compared nationally to the best performing ambulance service with 1%.

The survey results also shows that staff want to be to be more involved in decision making across services, that we need to strengthen communication between senior managers and staff , that staff want to feel more valued in their roles and we need to consider our offer linked to flexible working opportunities.

NEAS Chief Executive Helen Ray said: “My ambition is that each and every day our staff wake up in the morning and look forward to coming to work.

“We committed to change the culture of our organisation five years ago and we have achieved that thanks to the continued support and commitment from our staff. Now it is up to us to build on that progress, make sure we take the learning from the survey and ensure we engage our workforce to shape where we are going in the future.

“It was disappointing to note that this year more staff have experienced verbal or physical violence from members of the public while going about their work. It is totally unacceptable that our staff be subjected to any sort of violence at work. We will not tolerate assaults or abuse of any sort and do our utmost to provide the safest environment for them to work in. This includes the use of CCTV in our vehicles, sending warning letters to people who abuse our staff, and flagging addresses where violence has previously been an issue. We will continue to work closely with the police to prosecute where we are able to and as part of our safer work approach, we are looking to the use of body worn cameras as there is evidence that they reduce the likelihood of assault on our staff.”

Safety culture improvement

Since 2015, the Trust’s safety culture has increased to 6.2 out of 10, from 5.4 in the last report. This theme focuses on how NEAS approach errors, near misses and incidents fairly and addressing concerns raised from employees. What action NEAS takes to ensure that these errors do not happen again and how feedback is provided to ensure that employees know if any changes have been made.

How has the NEAS achieved this?

Additional training has been provided through the management essentials programme on quality and safety which focuses on the various processes that must be followed in order to correctly report an incident or a near miss/ error.

Quality of appraisals improvement

Since 2015, NEAS quality of appraisals have increased to 5.0 out of 10 from 4.3.

This theme focuses on how effective the appraisal process has been in terms of improving the Trust’s employee’s ability to do a better job, providing clear objectives for their role, and the employee feeling valued by the organisation during and after their appraisal. 

How has the NEAS achieved this?

There have been various improvements on the appraisal process since the staff survey in 2017.  These include a full policy review to bring the process into line with current practice.  The launch of the new behaviour’s framework became an integral part of giving the Trust a benchmark to work towards.  Additional training was launched on the back of the new policy which gave managers the knowledge and skills to be able to carry out an effective appraisal for staff.

Health and wellbeing improvement

Since 2015, the health and wellbeing of NEAS employees has increased to 5.0 out of 10 from 4.6.

This theme draws attention to work related stress within the workplace, providing the organisation with flexible working opportunities and how NEAS takes positive action regarding the health and wellbeing of its staff.

How has the NEAS achieved this?

In recent years there has been a health and wellbeing group which launched to promote mental health awareness training and initiatives to provide support and guidance to staff who maybe of need. There is also yearly flu campaigns and various health assessments including absence and workplace reviews and counselling services to further support staff.

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