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Morale has fallen among ICB staff, NHS staff survey finds

Morale has fallen among ICB staff, NHS staff survey finds
By Beth Gault
8 March 2024

The average morale levels across ICB staff have fallen over the past year, according to the NHS staff survey.

Released on 7 March, the survey asked NHS staff – including ICBs – to share their experiences of working for their organisation. It found that on average, ICB staff rate morale levels at 5.74 out of 10. This is down from 6.06 out of 10 in 2022.

While the staff survey is compulsory for all trusts, it is not for ICBs. However, only one – Humber and North Yorkshire – did not participate in 2023. Over 17,000 ICB staff participated in the survey altogether.

The three lowest morale scores came from North East London ICB, which had a morale score of 4.99 out of 10, Mid and South East Essex ICB with 5.02, and Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin ICB, which scored 5.24.

When asked about whether staff wanted to leave, with 10 being the most positive score, the average across the 41 ICBs was a score of 5.48 out of 10. Similarly, when asked about work pressures, the average score was 5.36.

Across the whole survey, including both ICBs and trusts, an average of 29% of staff said they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that they often think about leaving their organisation. This figure was down from 32% in 2022.

Meanwhile, the survey also asked about unwanted sexual behaviour for the first time. A national average of 8% of staff said they had been the target of at least once incident of unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature in the past 12 months.

Assistant director of policy at the Health Foundation, Ruth Thorlby, said: ‘Today’s results show some glimmers of hope in the levels of stress and exhaustion experienced by NHS staff after a difficult few years, but suggest that staff morale is still in a precarious state in the face of persistent pressures.

‘Only around 1 in 3 staff feel that there are enough staff to do their jobs properly, an improvement compared to last year, but the proportion of staff reporting being unwell due to work related stress is still higher than before the pandemic. Worryingly, discrimination from managers, colleagues and the public remains a problem. Measures to ensure staff feel safe and supported must be a priority.’

Chief executive of The King’s Fund, Sarah Woolnough, added: ‘There are some positive improvements across various indicators, but we can’t ignore the main message from this survey; that NHS staff are feeling undervalued, stretched and unwell and there is still work to do to make health and care a more attractive career.’

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