Health service staff work while sick

Photo: REX/Janine Wiedel

More than two-thirds of NHS staff have dragged themselves into work despite feeling unwell, with the vast majority doing so because of their commitment to their job – but one-third say it is because of feeling under pressure from managers, the latest NHS Staff Survey has shown.

The 2013 survey of the 265 NHS organisations in England polled 416,000 staff, of which responses were received from 203,000 – broadly half. The survey was carried out between September and December 2013.

In the context of health and wellbeing, more than half of respondents – 56% – said that their immediate manager took a positive interest in their health and wellbeing, slightly up from the 55% recorded in 2012.

Yet just 44% said their organisation took positive action on health and wellbeing.

A total of 68% of staff reported that they had attended work in the previous three months despite not feeling well enough to perform duties, a slight drop from the 69% in 2012.

Of those who had attended work while unwell: 91% said they had put themselves under pressure to attend; 32% felt under pressure to do so from their manager; and 23% said they were under pressure from other colleagues.

Around 39% reported that during the previous 12 months they had felt unwell as a result of work-related stress, marginally up from 38% in 2012, with the figure highest among staff in ambulance trusts (51%).

Some 15% reported experiencing physical violence from patients, their relatives or other members of the public and 29% said that they had experienced bullying, harassment and abuse from patients, their relatives or other members of the public in the previous 12 months. Just under two-thirds of such bullying or abuse incidents were reported.

More positively, nearly three-quarters (74%) said that they had received both health and safety and infection control training in the previous 12 months.

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