Some may mistakenly misconstrue the purpose of this commission to replace and improve the negative aspects of the NHS; ‘out with the old, in with the new’. Instead we have chosen to find ways to bolster and support what is great about the NHS, and a major aspect of this is the workforce of the NHS. Recently the extreme working conditions of healthcare staff have been under scrutiny, as shown by the Junior Doctor Strike, and the Scrap the Cap campaign, and highlighted previously by my colleague Haider. And yet despite these conditions as well as the negativity construed by the media about the future of the NHS, the staff continue to work tirelessly to continually triumph by doing what they do best; delivering care to the UK.
This is why we conducted a survey for frontline staff, a survey designed by us to be both user-friendly and constructively gain insight into aspects of the jobs of frontline staff, or soon-to-be, which currently seem to cause extreme effort. We want to know how we can enable frontline staff to improve their jobs and the care they deliver; so the purpose of many of our questions is to gain insight into current perspectives. Questions such as ‘Have you ever had an idea to change an aspect of your workplace?’ ‘If yes, what did you do with the idea?’ to assess the ease of implementing innovation within the NHS, whilst questions like ‘Do you think your working place culture supports innovation and adapts to change easily?’ evaluate the receptiveness of the NHS to change.
The survey was shared through social media, forums and physically distributing hard copies in order to capture results from the widest possible audience. The ethical process was laborious, and the survey is in no means robust form possible which is unfortunately outside the scope of this commission, but it has been worth the effort to yield results which demonstrate the current situation.
Our survey showed that 85% of frontline staff had had an idea or an innovation. However, there was a multitude of responses which showed that the implementation of these ideas was hindered due to lack of funding, which may be expected, but also by lack of time and low workforce morale. Reflecting on the responses it was clear there was a lack of willingness to adapt the workplace to accommodate innovations from the frontline staff, which I feel is nicely summarised by a responder: ‘Nobody on the frontline feels they have the power to make change’. The survey opened my eyes to the NHS’ current receptiveness to ideas directly from the people who work tirelessly, and highlighted that in order to address barriers to innovation, we, as a Commission, must also address workforce conditions. The survey has been instrumental in directing our report, it is our hope that we can find ways to address these problems so that the NHS workforce can be supported to continue their work that Great Britain has experienced for the last 70 years.
Grace Pinn is currently a nursing student at King’s College London who is interested in using her nursing degree to implement effective health policy later down the line. Edited by the Social Media Team.