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Most NHS staff think care has worsened over the past year

Most NHS staff think care has worsened over the past year


• More than 65% of NHS staff believe healthcare has worsened in England, double the numbers of last year

• Overal, staff rate their morale two out of five 

• Practice managers think the NHS will be privatised over the next two to five years

The number of staff who think the quality of healthcare has fallen has doubled compared to a year ago, while morale has fallen to below mid-point level, a survey has shown.

In its second annual survey of primary care staff engagement, Cogora, a health research and publishing company, found that around 65% of respondents, in particular GPs, felt that healthcare had worsened in the last 18 months. This compares to 35% of respondents last year.

British Medical Association (BMA) GP Committee's deputy chair Richard Vautrey said: "There's a sense that as the NHS is under financial pressure, there is increased focus on cost cutting and trying to reduce costs by reducing services, and that would inevitably mean that patients get a poorer deal as a result of that and the GPs can see that."

The level of morale and hopefulness about the future of the NHS had fallen to an all-time low of two out of five, a further deterioration from last year's survey results. 

Overwork and bureaucracy affected GP and practice managers' morale the most, with GPs and practice managers providing an average rating of five out of five for both factors. 

Dr Vautrey said: "Every practice is aware of the pressure on appointments, they are struggling to meet the demands of patients and are not able to offer appointments in a timely manner in a way they would want to because of huge work demands, and they don't feel NHS England or CCGs are supporting them in that regard." 

Nurses on the other hand provided an average rating of four for the influence of overwork, bureaucracy and pay on their morale. Pay seemed to have a more significant influence on nurse morale than GPs and practice managers who gave it an average rating of three for how it much it was affecting them. 

Head of policy and international affairs at the Royal College of Nursing, Howard Catton said that while the equal level of influence of overwork, bureaucracy and pay on nurse morale was consistent with previous survey results, the influence of pay over the other sectors reflected "not just one year of austerity, it's five years of austerity – an 8-9% fall in relation to inflation with no immediate prospects that it's going to [improve] any time soon."

The survey also highlighted increasing practice manager concern over NHS privatisation with views that it would take place in the next two to five years compared to GPs and nurses who thought it would happen in the next five to ten years. 

Fiona Dalziel, co-lead of the General Practice Foundation at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) said that with increases in alternative providers taking over a number of services, including nursing services earlier this month, the results reflected “practice managers’ concerns for the future of general practice in England.”


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