Troubling responses from nurses: Nuffield Trust response to NHS Staff Survey

Helen Buckingham responds to the 2020 Staff Survey for the NHS in England.

Press release

Published: 11/03/2021

Responding to the 2020 Staff Survey for the NHS in England, Nuffield Trust Director of Strategy Helen Buckingham said:

"Today's staff survey shows the astonishing resilience of the NHS, and reminds us that Covid-19 has hit certain parts of the workforce far more than others. But below the headlines there are troubling signs for vital groups, even in a survey conducted between waves of the pandemic.

"Nurses are the backbone of the NHS and have long faced chronic shortages. So it is concerning that nearly half (49%) say they faced work-related illness, compared to 42% of other staff. They are also at least as likely to be considering leaving the workforce as in previous years, while other staff are actually less likely to say this than in previous years. The proportion of nurses considering retiring outright or leaving the health care sector has risen from 15.7% to 16.9%.

"Worryingly, as a row over pay intensifies, nurses have seen the sharpest fall in satisfaction with their salaries, dropping from 36% to 33%. These aren't encouraging results for the drive to grow nursing numbers by 50,000, which is both a government promise and a front-line necessity.

"Another very concerning set of responses is those from staff of ethnic minority backgrounds. The survey shows they bore the brunt of Covid-19, with 47% working in Covid-19 roles compared to 31% of all staff. It is especially sad and troubling that the proportion of staff saying they faced discrimination has risen from 16.5% to 19.4% for those from Black ethnic groups, and from 13.7% to 15.6% for those from Asian ethnicities."

Notes to editors

  • The Nuffield Trust is an independent health think tank. We aim to improve the quality of health care in the UK by providing evidence-based research and policy analysis and informing and generating debate.
  • The 2020 Staff Survey can be seen in full with data tables on the website of the NHS Staff Survey Co-Ordination centre.
  • For any queries, or to arrange an interview, contact Mark Dayan at / 07920 043844