Employee Wellbeing
March 7, 2024

What Does the NHS Staff Survey 2023 Tell Us About Staff Wellbeing?

Let's pull out 8 key themes from the NHS Staff Survey 2023 and take a look at how it relates to staff wellbeing.

Toby Cannon
4 minutes

268 NHS organisations took part in the NHS Staff Survey 2023 which recorded 707,460 responses.

Let's look at what this can tell us about staff health and wellbeing within the NHS

Discrimination is a growing problem

8.48% of staff have experienced discrimination from patients or service users in the past 12 months (up from 8.29% in 2022).

What's also concerning is that 9.07% have experienced discrimination from managers, team leaders or colleagues in the past 12 months.

These two stats have been gradually increasing over the past 5 years.

On the positive side, the number of staff who feel their organisation respects individual differences is also increasing and is now at 70.63%.

More needs to be done here so NHS staff can work in an environment free from discrimination.

Team bonds are growing

70.43% of staff feel valued by their team, with a notable improvement amongst staff in Ambulance Trusts (up around four percentage points since 2021).

Responses to questions around attachment to their team, being kind to each other and treating colleagues with respect have all improved or stayed roughly the same.

MSK is still an issue

28.69% of staff have experienced musculoskeletal problems as a result of work activities in the last 12 months.

This is down around 1.4% from 2022.

Across the whole of the UK, over 30 million working days are lost due to MSK conditions every year in the UK and they account for up to 30% of GP consultations in England.

Ambulance services experience the highest levels of MSK at 39.14% of staff in 2023.

Stress levels are causing people to feel unwell

41.71% of staff have felt unwell because of work-related stress in the past 12 months. This is down from the pandemic high of 46.92% in 2021 but is still far too high.

When people do feel unwell, some are still coming to work with 54.83% of staff having been into work in the past 3 months despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties. This is probably due to the fact that less than a third of staff feel there are enough staff at their organisation for them to do their job properly

This will have a direct impact on the quality of patient care.

Organisations are taking more positive action

57.89% of staff said their organisation takes positive action on health and well-being which is at a 3 year high. There has been a five percentage point increase since 2021 amongst staff at Ambulance Trusts on this point who are the most improved.

Burnout is still a problem, but 2023 has been better

Burnout is down across all staffing groups compared with 2022.

Unfortunately, 30.38% of staff do still feel burnt out because of their work and this is impacting their personal life, with 29.75% of staff  not having enough energy for family and friends during leisure time.

Nutrition has started being measured and it's mixed results

For the first time in 2023, staff were asked how often they can eat nutritious and affordable food during their working hours.

Just over half of staff said they were often or always able to do so. Which means that just under half of the entire NHS workforce said they could only eat nutritious and affordable food sometimes, rarely or never during their work hours.

Managers are a valuable asset for health and wellbeing

71% of staff said their immediate manager takes a positive interest in their health and wellbeing which is up nearly 2% from last year.


The recent survey results highlight both the challenges and progress within the NHS regarding staff wellbeing. The slight increase in discrimination by patients, service users, and colleagues is a matter of concern and underscores the need for ongoing efforts to create a discrimination-free workplace. Conversely, the growing sense of respect for individual differences and strengthening team bonds, especially in Ambulance Trusts, provide a positive counterbalance.

Although the decrease in musculoskeletal problems and work-related stress is a step in the right direction, these issues, along with high levels of staff feeling unwell yet still coming to work, underline the critical need for adequate staffing and support mechanisms.

The focus on staff health and wellbeing, reflected in the highest reported level of organisational positive action in three years, along with improved managerial support, are promising developments.

However, the persisting problems of burnout and the mixed results on access to nutritious and affordable food during work hours indicate areas requiring further attention.

Moving forward, it is imperative for the NHS to continue building on the positive trends while addressing the areas of concern to ensure a supportive and healthy working environment for all staff.

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