UNISON - NHS staff survey
A survey of GB adults on NHS staff, on behalf of UNISON

1. Please think about the role of different types of staff in the NHS. There are non-medical staff such as porters, cleaners and catering staff, and medical staff such as doctors, nurses and midwives. To what extent do you believe that non-medical staff are more or less important as medical staff to the NHS?

Base: All respondents (n=2,030)

Total (%)
More important 5%
Equally important 78%
Less important 13%
Don’t know 4%
  • The majority of both women and men say that non-medical staff are equally important as medical staff to the NHS, although women are significantly more likely than men to say this (81% vs. 74% respectively).
  • More than four in five British adults aged 55+ (83%) believe that non-medical staff are equally important to medical staff. In comparison, seven in ten (69%) British adults aged 18-34 say the same.

2. Some NHS staff (including cleaners, porters and catering workers) are outsourced to private companies, which means they are not directly employed by the NHS. To what extent is this acceptable or unacceptable to you?

Base: All respondents (n=2,030)

Total (%)
NET: Acceptable 34%
NET: Unacceptable 54%
Very acceptable 7%
Somewhat acceptable 27%
Somewhat unacceptable 32%
Very unacceptable 22%
Don’t know 12%
  • Approaching half (45%) of British adults aged 18-34 say that the outsourcing of some NHS staff to private companies is acceptable, while just a quarter (25%) of those 55+ say the same.
  • Conversely, older British adults are almost twice as likely as their younger counterparts to find this unacceptable (69% 55+ yrs. vs. 37% 18-34 yrs.)
  • British adults living in the East Midlands (47%) are the most likely to say that outsourcing some NHS staff to private companies is acceptable, while those living in Scotland (26%) are the least likely.

3. Staff whose jobs are outsourced to private companies may have separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS. To what extent do you believe this could have a positive or negative effect on the following parts of the NHS?

  • Around half of British adults believe that outsourced staff having separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS could have a negative impact on each part of the NHS tested.
  • British adults are most likely to think that this could have a negative impact on employment satisfaction (52%).
  • Younger British adults aged 18-34 are more likely than their older counterparts aged 35-54 and 55+ to say that this could have a positive effect on each area tested.
  • British adults living in Scotland are the most likely to think that this would have a negative impact on most areas of NHS work.
Efficiency Safety Employment Satisfaction Cleanliness Food quality
NET: Positive 21% 16% 16% 18% 17%
NET: Negative 50% 51% 52% 48% 46%
Very positive effect 4% 5% 4% 5% 5%
Somewhat positive effect 17% 11% 12% 13% 12%
No effect 16% 21% 17% 21% 22%
Somewhat negative effect 34% 35% 33% 33% 31%
Very negative effect 16% 16% 19% 15% 15%
Don’t know 13% 13% 16% 13% 15%

Base: All respondents (n=2,030) 

Efficiency

Total (%)
NET: Positive 21%
NET: Negative 50%
Very positive effect 4%
Somewhat positive effect 17%
No effect 16%
Somewhat negative effect 34%
Very negative effect 16%
Don’t know 13%
  • Men are significantly more likely than women to say that outsourced staff having separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS could have a positive effect on the efficiency of the NHS (26% vs. 17% respectively).
  • Younger British adults are twice as likely as their older counterparts to believe this could have a positive effect on the efficiency of the NHS (30% 18-34 yrs. vs. 15% 55+ yrs.)
  • Conversely, two thirds (62%) of British adults aged 55+ believe that outsourced staff having separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS could have a negative effect on the efficiency of the NHS. This is compared to just a third (34%) of 18-34-year-olds who say the same.
  • Approaching three in ten (27%) British adults from the East Midlands believe that outsourced staff having separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS could have a positive effect on the efficiency of the NHS. This is compared to one in ten respondents from the South West (14%) and less than one in five respondents from Scotland (17%) who say the same.

 

Safety

Total (%)
NET: Positive 16%
NET: Negative 51%
Very positive effect 5%
Somewhat positive effect 11%
No effect 21%
Somewhat negative effect 35%
Very negative effect 16%
Don’t know 13%
  • A quarter (26%) of British adults aged 18-34, believe that outsourced staff having separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS could have a positive effect on the safety of the NHS. In comparison, just a sixth (16%) of 34-54-year-olds and only 8% of 55+ year-olds say the same.
  • Half of respondents aged 35-54 (51%), and three in five aged 55+ (62%), believe that outsourced staff having separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS could have a negative effect on the safety of the NHS. Only a third (35%) of 18-34-year-olds say the same.
  • One in five (22%) British adults from the East Midlands believe that outsourced staff having separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS could have a positive effect on the safety of the NHS, compared to just one in ten respondents in the South West and Scotland (11% for both).

Employment satisfaction

Total (%)
NET: Positive 16%
NET: Negative 52%
Very positive effect 4%
Somewhat positive effect 12%
No effect 17%
Somewhat negative effect 33%
Very negative effect 19%
Don’t know 16%
  • A quarter (28%) of British adults aged 18-34 believe that outsourced staff having separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS could have a positive effect on NHS employment satisfaction.  Just one in ten (9%) 55+ year-olds and one in seven (14%) 35-54-year-olds say the same.
  • In comparison, two thirds of 55+ year-olds (64%), and half (51%) of 35-54 year- olds believe that outsourced staff having separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS could have a negative effect on NHS employment satisfaction. Just over a third (36%) of 18-34-year-olds say the same.
  • One in five British adults from the East Midlands or the West Midlands (22% and 20% respectively), believe that outsourced staff having separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS could have a positive effect on NHS employment satisfaction. This is compared to just one in ten respondents living in the South West and Scotland (12% for both).

Cleanliness                                                             

Total (%)
NET: Positive 18%
NET: Negative 48%
Very positive effect 5%
Somewhat positive effect 13%
No effect 21%
Somewhat negative effect 33%
Very negative effect 15%
Don’t know 13%
  • Over a quarter (28%) of British adults aged 18-34 believe that outsourced staff having separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS could have a positive effect on the cleanliness of the NHS.
  • Conversely, half of British adults (49%) aged between 35-54 and approaching two-thirds of respondents (63%) aged 55+ believe that outsourced staff having separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS could have a negative effect on NHS cleanliness.
  • More than a quarter (27%) of British adults living in the East Midlands believe that outsourced staff having separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS could have a positive effect on NHS cleanliness, compared to just over one in ten respondents from the South West and Scotland (15% and 12% respectively).

 Food quality

Total (%)
NET: Positive 17%
NET: Negative 46%
Very positive effect 5%
Somewhat positive effect 12%
No effect 22%
Somewhat negative effect 31%
Very negative effect 15%
Don’t know 15%
  • A quarter (26%) of respondents aged 18-34 believe that outsourced staff having separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS could have a positive effect on NHS food quality. This compares to just one in ten (11%) respondents aged 55+ who think the same.
  • Conversely, three in five (59%) British adults aged 55+ believe that outsourced staff having separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS could have a negative effect on NHS food quality, including one in five (22%)  who believe this could have a very negative effect.
  • A quarter (24%) of respondents from the East Midlands believe that outsourced staff having separate managers and different ways of working to those directly employed by the NHS could have a positive effect on NHS food quality. Compared to just one in ten (13%) respondents from the South West who think the same.

4. When jobs are outsourced to private companies, staff initially keep their NHS pay and conditions, but over time these can change. To what extent do you think that this is fair or unfair?

Base: All respondents (n=2,030)

Total (%)
NET: Fair 21%
NET: Unfair 63%
Very fair 4%
Somewhat fair 17%
Somewhat unfair 32%
Very unfair 31%
Don’t know 16%
  • A quarter (26%) of 18-34-year olds think that it is fair that when jobs are outsourced to private companies, staff initially keep their NHS pay and conditions, but this changes over time. Compared to less than one-fifth (17%) of respondents aged 55+ who say the same.
  • Conversely, those aged 55+ are significantly more likely than 18-34-year olds to say that this is unfair (70% vs. 55% respectively).
  • Respondents from the East Midlands and London are the most likely to think that it is fair that when jobs are outsourced to private companies, staff initially keep their NHS pay and conditions, but this changes over time (28% and 26% respectively).
  • Conversely, those from the North West and Yorkshire and Humberside (69% for both) are the most likely to think that it is unfair that when jobs are outsourced to private companies, staff initially keep their NHS pay and conditions, but this changes over time.
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Date Published
18/11/2019
Client
UNISON
Methodology
Savanta ComRes interviewed 2,030 British adults from the 1st-3rd November 2019. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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