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Nearly A Third Of NHS Staff Are Requesting Details Of Jobs Outside The NHS

29% of NHS staff have recently inquired about jobs outside the NHS according to a new University of Bath Institute for Policy Research (IPR) report.

Between March 2023 and June 2023, nearly half (47%) of frontline staff checked job listings outside the NHS, and 1:7 (14%) reported having applied for one or more non-NHS jobs. Amongst applicants, the primary motivation was seeking higher pay. 1:4 (23%) of these applications were for supplementary paid work in addition to their NHS job.

The report, “Should I stay or should I go? Monitoring influences on NHS staff retention in the post-COVID-19 World,” identifies psychological stress, workload, staff shortages and pay as the top four reasons why staff leave the NHS.

Other Key Findings from the report:

  • Reports of symptoms of burnout show a rising trend, with 1:2 reporting ‘feeling very tired or drained’ most days or every day.
  • Ratings of intrinsic job satisfaction (caring for patients) and personal commitment to the NHS have weakened year on year since 2020.
  • Staff confidence over improvement to working conditions and their future in the NHS were low, and for the majority of issues, notably workload and staffing and resources, more negative than in Wave 3 (summer 2022).
  • Only 1:4 NHS nurses would recommend working for the NHS to others. There was a 24-point drop (61% to 37%) in the proportion of staff who agreed with the statement ‘I would recommend working for the NHS to others’ between winter 2020/21 and spring 2023. The figure for nurses (26%; spring 2023) was markedly lower than the all-staff rate.

The lead researcher Dr Andrew Weyman said: ‘Rising reports of shortages of resources, psychological stress, symptoms of burnout, coupled with low confidence of improvement to working condition, in the context of dissatisfaction with pay and evidence of weakening staff commitment to the NHS are particularly perturbing and potentially offer an explanation for the significant fall in the proportion of staff who would recommend working for the NHS to others”.

Staff viewed improvement to pay, staffing levels, workload and recognition by Government as the top priorities for change to increase retention rates.

Karin Orman, Director of Practice and Innovation at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, said: ‘The NHS desperately needs major reform, and health and care systems need to work better together. Our own research with our members last year found that occupational therapists working in the NHS are under immense pressure, with some even saying they feared the services they were providing were unsafe.

‘Recruitment and retention of staff is just one of the reasons we brought out our first ever workforce strategy last month. According to our strategy, which echoes the plans of all four UK nations, one of the key things that will help save the NHS is moving the majority of occupational therapists from hospitals into community settings, such as GP surgeries, schools, housing teams, social services, care homes and places of work.

‘But we need the resourcing and funding to make this happen. Getting the occupational therapy workforce right will actually help reduce the pressures on GPs, nurses, and all other areas of the NHS, as well as helping people live well for longer.’

 

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