Levels of satisfaction and wellbeing among NHS staff have a direct impact on patients' experiences of healthcare, according to the National Nursing Research Unit (NNRU) at King's College, London.
Its three-year study, based on 498 patient experience surveys, 106 patient interviews and 55 interviews with managers from four NHS trusts (two acute, two community), found investing in staff wellbeing is 'not only important for the nursing workforce but also for quality of care overall'.
It revealed patient experiences are better when staff feel they have a good team, co-worker support, job satisfaction, a positive organisational climate, organisational support, low emotional exhaustion and supervisor support.
The study, which involved academics and practitioners from King's College London, and the University of Southampton, found working environments with high levels of emotional exhaustion (such as end-of-life care) take their toll on nurses, even if they perform well; if NHS organisations were to monitor patient experience regularly, they would be better able to target resources to problematic areas.
The authors recommended NHS employers should systematically monitor job demands and facilitate team-building programmes.
Professor Glenn Robert, chair in healthcare quality and innovation at the NNRU, said: 'Staff often reported not being able to deliver the care they wanted to, citing insufficient staffing levels and competing demands on their time as preventing them from delivering the high quality care they wished to give.'
The report comes weeks after a survey of 3,000 nurses by Unison found fewer than one in ten nurses believe they can deliver safe, dignified, compassionate care all the time.