Concern as many NHS staff look for jobs outside health service

Nearly half of NHS workers have spent time looking at job adverts for work outside the service, according to new analysis.

Some 47% have looked at work outside the NHS and 29% have actively inquired about non-NHS work, researchers found.

Between March 2023 and June 2023 some 14% actually applied for non-NHS jobs, according to academics at the University of Bath.

Researchers said stress, workload, staff shortages and pay are the top reasons for staff leaving the NHS.

The study team raised concerns over burnout after almost one in two (47%) NHS workers reported “feeling very tired or drained” most days or every day.

And ratings of job satisfaction have declined over the four-year period that experts have been tracking views of NHS workers.

Staff were surveyed in “waves” starting in 2020.

Around 1,500 staff in England were surveyed by YouGov on behalf of researchers in the most recent poll.

Overall just 37% of staff questioned in spring 2023 said they would recommend working for the NHS to others – a drop from 61% in winter 2020/21.

Only one in four (26%) nurses said they would recommend working in the health service.

Study 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 conditions, 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.”

Patricia Marquis, executive director for England at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “This report tells the story of an NHS workforce at the end of its tether. Devastating nursing shortages are leaving staff burnt out and demoralised, unable to provide the level of care they want to.

“When nurses are the least likely of all NHS staff to recommend a career in the health service, ministers should sit up and listen.”

Last year the health service launched its first Long Term Workforce Plan with a view to boosting staff numbers and retaining current staff.

Dr Navina Evans, NHS England’s chief workforce officer, said: “The latest NHS staff survey showed the workforce feels happier than since the start of the pandemic, but we know there is more work to do to retain our hardworking NHS staff and support them to stay in the health service for longer, which is why we are offering more flexible working options than ever before, taking action to reduce duplicative inductions and payroll errors, while new rules mean staff can earn a salary while still taking their NHS pension.

“Our retire and return arrangements are also helping the NHS to retain highly experienced staff for longer, and, as part of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, we continue to expand domestic education, training and recruitment – and have already made significant progress with a 25% increase in medical places.”