Latest NHS staff survey results: Staff are under pressure – could volunteers be doing more?

11th March 2024

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The results of the latest NHS Staff Survey were published last week. Helpforce understands that the solution to improving staff wellbeing and morale involves a wide range of effort and investment. We know that volunteering needs to be understood as one part of those efforts.

Everyone working in or with the NHS is likely to be painfully aware of the pressures on staff. The results from the latest staff survey show a welcome continued gradual improvement in many indicators, including staff motivation, with nearly 7 in 10 staff saying they are enthusiastic about their job.

But over 4 in 10 staff say they feel exhausted at the end of their shift and fewer than half say they can meet conflicting demands.

Helpforce and our partners understand that volunteering can be part of the solution, helping improve NHS staff morale and productivity – and reaching out to potential new members of the workforce.

Mark Lever, our Chief Executive commented:

“The results are not a surprise and a reminder that NHS staff remain burnt out and under stress.

"The gradual improvement in the survey results is welcome. However fixing this situation is a massive challenge for NHS leaders in the face of industrial action, the continued impact of the pandemic and pressures on resources across the system.

“Helpforce would not want to overstate the impact that volunteering can make, but we know it is part of the solution. Our research shows:

  • 81% of staff agreed volunteers help them to feel less stressed
  • 90% say volunteer support helps give them enough time to deliver good care.

“Our charity has helped develop important projects where volunteers are making a real difference to NHS staff which, in turn, improves patients' recovery. But the picture is patchy and underdeveloped. We urge the NHS to continue to grow their investment in volunteering across the system as one part of their efforts to improve staff well-being.”

Helpforce will continue to encourage the NHS to establish volunteering services at scale across the system. These include Helpforce’s own solutions, such as:

  • The Volunteer to Career programme that enables volunteers to try out and, if it’s a good fit, pursue careers in health and care. The kind of jobs volunteers go into mean clinical staff can spend more time treating patients or can take breaks. 62% of volunteers who took part in the two-year programme have found jobs or are in education and training.
  • Introducing impactful volunteering roles that can support staff in areas where retention rate is lowest, such as pharmacy, maternity, and nursing.

What do you think?

We’d love to know if and how you think volunteers could be doing more to support staff wellbeing and productivity across the NHS. Share your thoughts by tagging us @help_force on X and @Helpforce on LinkedIn.