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Safe and compassionate care for patients depends on staff being listened to and supported

21 July 2017

The Point of Care Foundation today publishes a new briefing, highlighting that NHS staff have become the shock absorbers of an NHS under chronic strain.

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In Behind Closed Doors The Point of Care Foundation argues that the hard truths learned through the Francis Inquiry are in danger of being forgotten in the light of unprecedented, continuing, and seemingly endless service pressures. The Point of Care Foundation calls on organisations to prioritise staff experience and strengthen efforts to protect staff from stress and burnout, because the way staff feel at work affects the way they care for patients.

The briefing presents evidence on current pressures and staff experience:

  • From 2004-16, the number of attendances at A&E increased by 18%, from 12.7 million to 15 million.
  • Only one in two staff feel their NHS employer values them and their work.
  • 2% for health and social care staff suffer work-related stress anxiety and depression in the NHS compared to around 1.2% of the overall British workforce

The Point of Care Foundation wants to see every patient treated with kindness, dignity and respect all of the time, but in an environment in which staff themselves don’t feel cared about, it is hard to deliver personalised care.  A positive staff experience is fundamental if staff are expected to be at their best with patients.

The briefing therefore makes recommendations that focus on support for bottom-up initiatives that acknowledge the intrinsic motivations that staff feel to care for patients, and for actions at every level of the NHS to enable staff to be at their best with patients.

The recommendations are framed at three levels of the system:

  • Frontline staff should prioritise their own wellbeing, communicate their concerns, and use their own knowledge, as well as that of patients, to take action to improve care and to feel motivated in their work.
  • Organisations providing staff with greater access to psychosocial support and forums for reflective practice
  • National agencies and regulators should be applauded for efforts to simplify and reduce duplication, volume, frequency and confusion over the reports they require from providers.

Jocelyn Cornwell, chief executive of The Point of Care Foundation said:

“When we published Staff Care in 2014, we highlighted the importance of prioritising staff experience because how staff feel at work shapes patients’ experience of care.

While it is positive that most NHS trusts now have strategies to engage their staff, there is patchy evidence of their effectiveness.  In the face of increasing pressures, it is vital that organisations take visible action which demonstrates their commitment to listening to staff.

It is by taking steps to support staff that we can make improvements at the point of care, and this is something that would truly be a cause for celebration on the 70th anniversary of the NHS in 2018.”

Notes to editors:

  • NHS Improvement has an approved statement from its Chair Ed Smith in response to publication of the briefing.  Contact their press office on 020 3747 0800 or
  • The Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Royal College of Physicians are supportive of the recommendations made in the briefing.  A statement is available from the press office of the Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.