Headlines: January 27th, 2004

A three-year study of London’s 30,000 National Health Service staff has shown a move towards improved working lives in spite of increased job pressures, new challenges and the cost of living in the capital. Figures published today show almost two thirds of staff felt their jobs were interesting and challenging and offered a feeling of accomplishment.”The Healthy Attitudes: Quality of Working Life in the London NHS” survey was conducted by leading independent employment research and consultancy body, the Institute for Employment Studies, on behalf of a consortium of NHS Trusts and Health Authorities.

In addition to higher levels of job satisfaction the research found workers reported more opportunities for training and development and rising levels of approval for line managers, with above average satisfaction scores and good working relationships reported by all groups of staff. There was also greater satisfaction with equality of opportunity and evidence of fewer incidents of harassment from patients and relatives as well as a sense of improved health and safety conditions.

Changes in working patterns meant there had been a steady increase in the numbers of people working in the daytime and a decrease in those working on a shift and rota basis. Overall there was more willingness among those in the survey to stay in their current jobs. More than 70 per cent said they intended to stay with their employer for another year or more.

On the negative side the survey also points to the areas where working lives in the NHS can be further improved. These include continuing dissatisfaction with levels of pay and benefits; generally lower levels of satisfaction among support staff; variable exposure to training and development opportunities; some staff with a disability or medical condition feeling they were not getting the required support and an increased levels of stress among managers.

The report’s author Dilys Robinson, from IES, says the findings should be encouraging to everyone involved with the NHS in London, including its clients. It offers evidence, she says, that action is being taken to address the everyday concerns of NHS employees, improve their working lives, and so to provide the best possible standard of care for patients.

The report is available as “Healthy Attitudes: Quality of Working Life in the London NHS, 2000-2002”, D Robinson, S Perryman (eds). IES Report 404. ISBN 1 85184 335 3, priced 35.00 pounds.