Trust among best in NHS, survey shows, but concern about violence towards staff

Northumbria Healthcares flagship emergency-care hospital at Cramlington.
Northumbria Healthcares flagship emergency-care hospital at Cramlington.

The NHS trust running hospitals in Northumberland and North Tyneside is to launch a campaign emphasising zero tolerance of physical violence and abuse towards staff.

This is one of the next steps that was highlighted to the board of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust at its meeting last Thursday (March 28) in response to the results of the annual NHS Staff Survey.

The results saw Northumbria placed first in 20 per cent of categories and outperform the majority of its peers in 90 per cent.

Overall, this represents one of the strongest performances in the NHS with Northumbria ranked second nationally among acute (hospital) trusts (out of 86) and sixth overall (out of 163).

Based on a record 72 per cent participation rate – almost double the average and the best recorded – the results shows that the trust’s staff feel listened to, are highly motivated and are engaged with their work.

However, among all these positives, it was highlighted by Helen Cunningham, the trust’s HR manager, that the only theme where Northumbria is equivalent to the average is for how often staff are experiencing physical violence from patients/relatives.

In response to one of the survey questions, it was revealed that 17.2 per cent of staff at Northumbria Healthcare say that they experienced at least one incident of violence in the previous 12 months.

This is below the worst score nationally – 21.2 per cent, but above the average and best scores – 14.3 per cent and 10.1 per cent respectively.

These findings are in line with the first set of results from the organisation’s revolutionary, ‘real-time’ staff experience programme that were reported to the January board meeting and revealed that a fifth of staff have experienced abuse or violence in the past year.

But there were two themes where Northumbria Healthcare’s results saw it rated best in the NHS – morale and equality, diversion and inclusion.

Fittingly, last Thursday’s board meeting also received an update on the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) action plan, which is making great strides.

The ultimate aim of the WRES is to increase awareness of the differences in experience for black and minority ethnic employees in the NHS.

Claire Coe, the trust’s staff engagement and inclusion lead, also told the meeting about a BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) recruitment event taking place at which NHS trusts from across the region will be represented.

It takes place from 10am to 3pm on Saturday, April 27, at the New Education Centre at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service