By Samera Owusu Tutu

29 Aug 2014

A survey of health professionals reveals negativity about NHS reforms across the board. Samera Owusu Tutu reports

A CSW survey of public sector health professionals has found that the overwhelming majority believe the impact of the coalition’s health reforms has been negative. 

The online poll, run in July, asked whether people ‘think the impact of the reforms has been positive or negative’. Of the 3628 respondents – 55% of whom have roles that involve frontline care – only 172 (5%) felt the impact has been positive, while 1388 (38%) said it’s been negative. A third said the impact has been mixed, 17% felt it was too early to tell, and 8% said they didn’t know. 

The hostility to the reforms held firm across almost all levels of seniority, with the difference between positive and negative responses being 36% for the 1861 respondents in management roles and 32% for the 1424 outside management.

Managers were more confident of their views, with just 3% saying they don’t know (at both board and director level, the figure was zero). They were also more negative about the reforms than the average: 41% of managers said the impact has been negative. A closer look at grades reveals a stark difference between board members and top executives. Those at board level had the highest positive percentage (15%), while the directors had the highest negative percentage: a startling 51%. 

Heads of service and clinicians also gave the reforms the thumbs down, with figures of 48% and 44% respectively.

The group that lifted the overall average up to 38% comprised staff at the ‘administrative/support team member’ level. Only 21% of these 474 respondents felt the impact was negative, though a substantial 19% still don’t know how they feel on the topic. 

Setting aside the 60%-negative outlier of the 50 respondents from the commissioning  support units, the variation in negative views between different organisations was 13 percentage points. Department of Health staff were 49% negative; though their positive figure was also above average, at 8%, and just 37 DH staff completed the  survey – too few to draw firm conclusions. 

The most upbeat were NHS trust staff, with 36% of the 2382 respondents calling the reforms’ impact negative.  Only 4% thought them positive – but those looking for silver linings may be heartened that the people directly delivering services are marginally less hostile to the reforms than other healthcare workers.

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