March 7, 2024

NHS Staff Survey 2023: What Do The Results Tell Us? (Summary and Key Figures)

Let's dive into the key takeaways from the NHS Staff Survey 2023.

Toby Cannon
15 minutes

Response Rate

The NHS Staff Survey 2023 witnessed a commendable response rate of 48%, marking an increase from the previous year, with over 707,000 staff members participating.

The mix of online and paper submissions underscores the survey's accessibility, ensuring diverse methods for staff participation. This robust response underscores the commitment of NHS staff to share their insights and experiences, offering a valuable snapshot of the working environment across the health service.

We are compassionate and inclusive

Overall score

2023: 7.30

2022: 7.23

2021: 7.24

This score has roughly remained the same compared with previous years. The score has slightly improved but as the results are marginal, we can't read into this too much.

Sub-score breakdown

This score is made up of the following areas:

  • Compassionate culture
  • Compassionate leadership
  • Diversity and equality
  • Inclusion

Each of these areas had a slight improvement compared with the data from 2022.

Individual questions of note

After taking a dip down to 57.42% in 2022, in 2023 61.12% of staff would recommend their organisation as a place to work, one of the biggest improvements in this section

Unfortunately a higher percentage of staff compared with 2022 experienced discrimination at work from either service users or fellow staff members. According to the survey, staff are more likely to experience discrimination at work from managers, team leaders or colleagues (9.07% of people) than from patients and service users (8.48% of people).

Slightly less people think that the people they work with are polite and treat each other with respect (72.34% compared with 72.40% in 2022).

We are recognised and rewarded

Overall score

2023: 6.00

2022: 5.80

2021: 5.89

After taking a dip in 2022, this score has improved by 0.2 and is now higher than the result from 2021.

Sub-score breakdown

No sub-scores for this section.

Individual questions of note

The biggest improvement in this section is satisfaction with pay which increased from 25.61% in 2022 to 31.23%. Whilst this is a fantastic step in the right direction, it's important to note that in 2019 this was at 37.89%.

The smallest improvement was the number of staff who say that the people they work with show appreciation to one another.

We each have a voice that counts

Overall score

2023: 6.72

2022: 6.68

2021: 6.72

The "We each have a voice that counts" score has remained stable over the past three years, showing a slight improvement in 2023. This stability suggests that while there may have been small positive changes, there's room for more significant improvement in ensuring staff feel their voice truly counts within the NHS.

Sub-score breakdown

This score is comprised of the following areas:

  • Autonomy and control
  • Raising concerns

Autonomy and control

The autonomy and control sub-score for 2023 stands at 6.97, a slight increase from 6.92 in 2022. This improvement indicates a growing sense among NHS staff that they have the freedom and trust to manage their work and make decisions. Specific areas of note include:

  • 86.05% of staff always know their responsibilities.
  • 90.13% feel trusted to do their job.
  • 73.86% see frequent opportunities to show initiative.

Raising concerns

The raising concerns sub-score has seen a minor improvement, moving from 6.44 in 2022 to 6.46 in 2023. This increment, though marginal, points towards a slightly more conducive environment for staff to raise concerns related to clinical safety and organisational issues. Key figures include:

  • 71.28% would feel secure raising concerns about unsafe clinical practices.
  • 56.81% are confident their organisation would address their concerns.

Individual questions of note

Unfortunately, two areas decreased slightly which were:

  • The number of staff feeling trusted to do their job
  • The number of staff who would feel secure raising concerns about unsafe clinical practice

All other areas improved marginally.

We are safe and healthy

Due to an issue with the data, the NHS Staff Survey 2023 results for the "We are safe and healthy" section could not be fully reported. This area, crucial for understanding the physical and psychological safety of NHS staff, typically examines aspects such as negative experiences, health and safety climate, and burnout.

Overall score

2023: Not Reported

2022: 5.94

2021: 5.94

Sub-score breakdown

Due to the reporting issue, detailed analysis and comparisons across the specific areas within this category are not available for 2023. However, these areas traditionally include:

  • Negative Experiences: Evaluating occurrences of physical violence, harassment, bullying, or abuse experienced by staff within the last 12 months.
  • Health and Safety Climate: Assessing staff perceptions of their work environment's safety, including equipment availability, workload management, and organisational support for health and well-being.
  • Burnout: Measuring staff feelings of emotional exhaustion, frustration, and the impact of work on their energy levels and personal lives.

Questions of note

  • Increased Staffing Levels: There was a significant improvement in the perception that there are enough staff at the organisation for staff to do their job properly. This increased from 26.39% in 2022 to 32.40% in 2023, marking a six-percentage-point improvement and returning to a level comparable to pre-pandemic times in 2019​​.
  • Reduced Unrealistic Time Pressures: There was an improvement in staff reporting that they never or rarely have unrealistic time pressures, from 23.44% in 2022 to 26.25% in 2023. This represents a nearly three-percentage-point increase, indicating a slight reduction in the frequency of unrealistic time pressures experienced by staff​

We are always learning

Overall score

2023: 5.64

2022: 5.39

2021: 5.28

The "We are always learning" score has witnessed an appreciable increase for the second consecutive year, reflecting an encouraging trend towards fostering a learning culture within the NHS.

Sub-score breakdown

This score encompasses two critical areas:

  • Development
  • Appraisals

Each area contributes to understanding how effectively the NHS supports its staff in their professional growth and recognises their efforts.

Development sub-score: 2023: 6.49

The Development sub-score saw an improvement from 6.38 in 2022 to 6.49 in 2023. This score is derived from several indicators, including opportunities for career development, support to improve knowledge and skills, and access to learning and development opportunities. Notably:

  • 70.83% stated they have opportunities to improve their knowledge and skills.
  • 57.41% felt supported to develop their potential.
  • 60.37% were able to access the right learning and development opportunities when needed.

Appraisals sub-score: 2023: 4.77

The Appraisals sub-score also improved, from 4.38 in 2022 to 4.77 in 2023. This area assesses the quality and impact of appraisals on staff development, including:

  • 83.51% reported having had an appraisal or review in the last 12 months.
  • 25.49% said their appraisal definitely helped them improve how they do their job.
  • 35.45% agreed it helped them to set clear objectives for their work.
  • 33.62% left feeling their work is valued by the organisation.

Individual questions of note:

  1. Most Improved: The percentage of staff saying they have opportunities to improve their knowledge and skills saw a notable increase from 68.78% in 2022 to 70.83% in 2023.
  2. Most Decreased: Although not a decrease, the area of appraisals shows room for improvement, particularly in ensuring that appraisals lead to meaningful development opportunities and recognition.

We work flexibly

Overall score

2023: 6.28

2022: 6.09

2021: 6.06

The "We Work Flexibly" score has seen a steady improvement over the past three years, indicating progress in the NHS's efforts to support flexible working arrangements. This upward trend suggests a growing recognition of the importance of work-life balance and the benefits of flexible working practices.

Sub-score breakdown

This score includes assessments of:

  • Support for Work-Life Balance
  • Flexible Working

Both areas are crucial for understanding how NHS organisations accommodate the diverse needs and personal commitments of their staff.

Support for Work-Life Balance sub-score: 2023: 6.32

  • 49.61% of staff said their organisation is committed to helping them balance their work and home life (Q6b), up from 45.83% in 2022.
  • 55.86% achieve a good balance between their work life and home life (Q6c), an improvement from 52.56% in 2022.
  • 70.67% felt they could approach their immediate manager to talk openly about flexible working (Q6d), compared to 68.62% in 2022.

Flexible Working sub-score: 2023: 6.25

  • 57.39% are satisfied with the opportunities for flexible working patterns (Q4d), which is an increase from 54.51% in 2022.

Questions of note

  • The biggest improvement was seen in the Support for Work-Life Balance sub-score, particularly in the perception of the organisation's commitment to helping staff balance work and home life, which saw a nearly four-percentage-point increase.
  • Satisfaction with flexible working opportunities also saw a notable improvement, increasing by nearly three percentage points from 2022 to 2023.

We are a team

Overall score

2023: 6.80

2022: 6.69

2021: 6.64

The "We Are a Team" score shows a steady improvement, with a rise of 0.11 points from 2022 to 2023, indicating progress in fostering a collaborative and cohesive working environment within the NHS.

Sub-score breakdown

This score is derived from two key aspects:

Team Working

2023: 6.70 (2022: 6.61, 2021: 6.58)

Line Management

2023: 6.89 (2022: 6.77, 2021: 6.70)

  • Team Working
  • Line Management

Team Working sub-score for 2023: 6.70 (2022: 6.61, 2021: 6.58)

Significant aspects of the Team Working sub-score include shared objectives, meeting to discuss effectiveness, mutual respect, understanding of roles, enjoyment of collaboration, autonomy in work processes, and constructive handling of disagreements.

Questions of note

Over 2% more of staff said their manager gave them clear feedback on their work compared with 2022.

The biggest improvement in this section was the number of staff who said the team they work in often meets to discuss the team’s effectiveness (62.17%, up from 59.02% in 2022)

Staff engagement

The overall theme score for 2023 is 6.89, marginally higher than the 6.79 score from 2022, although this increase is described within the report's precision limits and not classified as an increase. The Staff Engagement theme encompasses three sub-scores: Motivation, Involvement, and Advocacy, each contributing to our understanding of how engaged NHS staff feel in their work and workplace.

Motivation Sub-score: 2023: 7.02

The Motivation sub-score shows an improvement from 6.94 in 2022 to 7.02 in 2023. Key findings include:

  • 55.17% of staff look forward to going to work, an improvement of over two percentage points from last year.
  • 69.02% are enthusiastic about their job, indicating a positive trend but still below the levels reported in previous years.

Involvement Sub-score: 2023: 6.85

The Involvement sub-score has risen from 6.78 in 2022 to 6.85 in 2023, reflecting improvements in how staff feel about their participation in work-related decisions and initiatives:

  • 73.86% feel there are frequent opportunities for them to show initiative in their role.
  • 71.59% are able to make suggestions to improve the work of their team or department.
  • 55.87% feel they are able to make improvements happen in their area of work, showing an upward trend in staff empowerment and involvement in work processes.

Advocacy Sub-score: 2023: 6.81

The Advocacy sub-score has seen a significant increase from 6.66 in 2022 to 6.81 in 2023. This sub-score measures the extent to which staff would recommend their organisation as a place to work and the quality of care provided:

  • 75.14% agree that the care of patients/service users is their organisation's top priority, showing a slight increase from the previous year.
  • 61.12% would recommend their organisation as a place to work, marking an improvement of over three percentage points from 2022.
  • 64.97% would be happy with the standard of care provided by their organisation if a friend or relative needed treatment, indicating a positive perception of the quality of care.


The theme score for 2023 is 5.95, which represents an improvement of 0.21 points from 2022 (5.74), bringing morale back to its 2019 level, though it remains below the peak of 2020 (6.08).

Sub-scores breakdown

Thinking about Leaving Sub-score: 2023: 6.06

  • 29.12% of staff said they often think about leaving the organisation, a decrease from 32.36% in 2022, indicating a positive trend in retention sentiment.
  • 21.44% will probably look for a job at a new organisation in the next 12 months, down from 23.73% in 2022, showing an improvement in the intention to stay.
  • 15.71% expressed a desire to leave as soon as they find another job, an improvement from 17.37% in 2022, reflecting slightly better commitment levels among the workforce.

Work Pressure Sub-score: 2023: 5.34

  • 46.71% reported being able to meet all the conflicting demands on their time at work, an improvement from 42.99% in 2022, suggesting better management of workloads.
  • 58.49% confirmed they have adequate materials, supplies, and equipment to do their work, up from 55.64% in 2022, indicating progress in providing the necessary resources for staff.
  • 32.40% feel there are enough staff at the organisation for them to do their job properly, a significant improvement from 26.39% in 2022, though still a point of concern for many.

Stressors Sub-score: 2023: 6.43

  • 48.18% reported that relationships at work are never or rarely strained, improving from 45.94% in 2022, suggesting a healthier work environment.
  • 71.95% said they receive the respect they deserve from colleagues, slightly up from 71.14% in 2022, highlighting a positive aspect of work culture.

Patient safety

  • Reporting of Errors, Near Misses, and Incidents: 33.19% of staff have witnessed errors, near misses, or incidents that could have harmed staff and/or patients in the last month, a figure nearly unchanged from 33.40% in 2022.
  • Fair Treatment: 59.45% believe their organisation treats staff involved in errors, near misses, or incidents fairly, up from 58.17% in 2022.
  • Encouragement to Report: 86.33% of staff stated their organisation encourages reporting of errors, near misses, or incidents, slightly higher than 86.07% in 2022.
  • Organisational Action: 68.15% feel that their organisation takes action to prevent recurrence of reported incidents, an improvement from 67.37% in 2022.
  • Feedback on Changes Made: 60.92% received feedback about changes made in response to reported errors, near misses, and incidents, up from 59.80% in 2022.

The "Patient Safety" section of the NHS Staff Survey 2023 highlights several positive trends indicating an ongoing commitment to improving safety culture within the NHS. While the percentage of staff witnessing potentially harmful incidents remains stable, there are notable improvements in the fair treatment of staff involved in such incidents, encouragement to report, and the action taken by organisations in response to reports.


  • Improvements in Team Collaboration and Staff Engagement: There's been a positive trend in scores related to 'We are a team' and 'Staff Engagement', reflecting enhanced teamwork, communication, and overall engagement within the NHS. These improvements suggest a growing culture of collaboration and involvement, crucial for delivering high-quality patient care.
  • Recognition of the Importance of Work-Life Balance and Flexible Working: The survey indicated a steady increase in scores for 'We work flexibly', demonstrating the NHS's commitment to supporting work-life balance and flexible working arrangements. This is essential for staff well-being and retention, especially in a high-pressure environment like healthcare.
  • Challenges in Staff Morale and Work Pressure Still Exist: Despite positive trends, areas such as 'Morale' and managing 'Work Pressure' continue to pose challenges. The survey shows that efforts to address workload management, staff shortages, and stress are bearing fruit, but there remains significant room for improvement to ensure a supportive and sustainable working environment for all staff.
  • Patient Safety Remains a Top Priority: The 'Patient Safety' section highlights the continued emphasis on creating a safe environment for both patients and staff. The slight improvements in reporting and handling of errors, near misses, and incidents point towards a strengthening culture of safety and accountability within the NHS.

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