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University of Bath

Should I stay or should I go? - 2: Influences on NHS staff retention in the post COVID-19 world

The report details findings from a survey of NHS employee perspectives on staff retention, conducted over four waves between winter 2020 and spring 2023.

This report by Andrew Weyman, Richard Glendinning, Rachel O'Hara, Joanne Coster and Deborah Roy details findings from a tracking survey of NHS employee perspectives on influences on staff retention, conducted over four waves between winter 2020 and spring 2023. The longitudinal sampling affords insight into the extent to which phenomena identified at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic present as transitory or enduring and an indication of related trends. The sample at each wave was sourced from the YouGov Panel (~2,000 UK-wide NHS employees at Waves One and Two, and ~1,500 England-wide at Three and Four).

Core themes addressed were: reasons why staff stay/leave; what’s got better/worse; worries and concerns; confidence in the future; future work/retirement aspirations; non-NHS job seeking behaviour; strength of attachment to the NHS; and what has changed and what needs to change.

Findings highlight the centrality of staffing levels relative to the demand for care as the biggest single challenge to staff resilience and retention. While the previously upward trend of staff applying for non-NHS jobs indicates some stabilisation, the all-staff rate remains at 1:7 (as high as 1:4 for some professions). Reports symptoms of burnout show rising trend and confidence in the future an increasingly negative profile. A striking finding is a 24 point drop (61% to 37%) in the proportion of staff who ‘would recommend working for the NHS to others’ between winter 2020/21 and spring 2023.