Low morale in the NHS is putting modernization plans at risk. This is the conclusion of research into the views of nurses, doctors, managers, therapists, care assistants and ancillary staff published by the King’s Fund. The two biggest causes of low morale are chronic staff shortages, which make working conditions difficult, and the strong perception among staff that their work is not valued. The Fund has called on the Government to act urgently to boost morale among NHS staff.Focus groups of staff and managers revealed that morale is lowest where staff feel their views are not heard by managers, especially where political imperatives prevail over local priorities. Many staff said training and development opportunities were denied them because shortages forced them to take extra shifts instead. The atmosphere created by these conditions made it is hard for staff to provide the best care for patients or to improve the quality of service they deliver.
The report argues that morale can be improved if managers spend more time listening to staff and communicate patients’ thanks for their efforts. While staff shortages are being tackled, NHS organizations should ensure flexible working arrangements are made, adequate training opportunities are provided and staff are involved in modernization efforts.