THE majority of staff at Oxfordshire's hospitals say they are underpaid, working extra hours for free every week just to keep up with demand, and believe there are still not enough workers to do the job well.

Hundreds, meanwhile, have felt sick due to stress at work and developed health problems because of the job.

The shocking figures were revealed in the latest annual staff survey for Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), which had its highest ever turnout with 5,918 employees at the trust – just under 50 per cent – responding.

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Terry Roberts, the newly-appointed chief people officer at the trust, which runs the John Radcliffe, Churchill, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, and Banbury's Horton General Hospital, said the results were an improvement on last year but the trust would listen and make changes based on what staff had shared.

The survey in particular highlighted long-running issues over pay and staff shortages.

Despite recruitment efforts by health chiefs almost 70 per cent of workers who responded said they did not believe there were enough staff to do the job well.

Oxford Mail:

This was a decrease on the previous two years but still higher than the national average.

More than one in five, 22.8 per cent, also said they faced unrealistic time pressures and over half, 57.7 per cent, admitted they worked extra hours unpaid each week to keep up with demand.

Satisfaction with wages, a frequent issue for Oxfordshire health workers and even more acute in Oxford due to the city's high living costs, saw a slight increase.

The figure, 32.5 per cent, was better than the 29.8 per cent in 2018 but still below the national average of 36.7 per cent.

The impact of the job on the mental and physical health of staff was also highlighted in the survey.

Of those who responded, 39.8 per cent said they had felt unwell in the last 12 months due to work-related stress.

It was a small reduction on the previous two years, a trend in many of the questions, but still almost four in 10 staff.

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The numbers of employees reporting musculoskeletal problems, 30.7 per cent – which covers everything from back and neck pain to carpal tunnel and tennis elbow – as a result of their work has gone up for the fourth year in a row.

More than one in 10 also said they had experienced at least one incident of physical violence in the last 12 months by a patient or their family member.

It comes after the Oxford Mail revealed in December doctors and nurses were facing rising levels of violence and verbal abuse at the John Radcliffe Hospital's A&E department.

Physical violence at the hospital was at its highest since 2015, with 185 incidents logged of 'physical aggression' last year.

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The trust said the latest results showed a 'significant year-on-year improvement' and there were signs that hospital chiefs' efforts to improve morale had started to pay off.

One indicator was the number of staff who said they 'often' thought about leaving the trust had gone down by five per cent. Though it was still more than a quarter.

The trust was judged to have performed 'significantly better' for 59 out of the 90 survey questions, 'significantly worse' for only one of the 90 questions.

Oxford Mail:

It was found to be broadly the same for the remaining 30.

Areas where the results show staff had experienced a marked improvement included staff's satisfaction in their job role.

Mr Roberts, who joined OUH as the trust's new chief people officer on February 10, said: "The staff survey is important because it allows us to hear what is working well for our staff at OUH, and what could be even better.

"It is really encouraging to hear that our staff's experience of working at OUH is improving.

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"We appreciate that there are also opportunities to do even better, especially in those areas of staff experience where we haven't seen improvements."

He added: "We will listen to what our staff have told us through the survey, learn how they feel about working at OUH, and most importantly, take action in response to what they have told us, so that together we can change things for the better for our staff and our patients."