St Andrew's Hospital staff complain of low morale and stress in employer reviews...but hospital defends record

Employees and former workers at St Andrew's Healthcare have left scathing reviews of the employer on job sites.
Employees and former workers at St Andrew's Healthcare have left scathing reviews of the employer on job sites.

Some employees of a Northampton mental health hospital recently hit by a damning watchdog report have spoken of the low morale and stress of having to work in understaffed wards.

St Andrew's Healthcare has been given six months to improve by the Care Quality Commission after inspectors labelled its adolescent wards as 'inadequate' last week.

Much of the criticism levelled at the hospital focussed on staffing shortages.

About 13 per cent of shifts were unfilled in March, but its chief executive has blamed an ongoing national skills shortage.

Anonymous posters on various recruitment sites have left critical reviews of St Andrews in recent months.

One particular profile page for the job site Indeed features only five reviews - all rating the hospital one star out of five as a place to work.

Among the alleged 'issues' at St Andrew's one former health professional listed: "Staff shortages, budget cuts, redundancies, extremely low moral (sic), little career progression, high levels of stress, ridiculous work load, and extremely challenging service users that can't be managed/cared for fully."

Other reviewers talked of a lack of career progression and large workloads.

St Andrew’s Hospital runs one of the biggest adolescent mental health inpatient facilities in Europe - Fitzroy House.

Last week chief executive Katie Fisher apologised to the hardworking staff at the mental health facility, who she said had been let down by senior management.

In response to the recent poor reviews, a statement from the charity said that most workers were proud to be employed at St Andrew's, according to internal surveys.

A spokeswoman said: "We value everyone at St Andrew’s Healthcare for who they are and the unique impact they have on our colleagues and the people in our care. We offer competitive salaries to our 4,800 staff which we regularly benchmark against the NHS and healthcare industry. We are proud to pay more than the minimum wage to all staff, including those aged 18-21. Other benefits we offer include enhanced sick pay and a tailored Employee Assistance Programme offering 24-hour support for staff and their families. More details of our pay and benefits can be found here: https://www.stah.org/careers/pay-and-benefits/

"Understanding how staff feel about working at St Andrew’s is enormously important to us, and we hold an annual staff survey to collate people's feelings about how we perform as an employer. Our most recent survey, in 2018, found that 60% of our staff are proud of their workplace, 62% are optimistic about our future, and 75% are willing to put in extra effort for the benefit of their colleagues and our patients. Employee engagement is a key focus, and over the last three years our overall engagement score has improved from 59% in 2015 to 66% last year.

"We invest heavily in training and development to give everyone on our team the opportunities and resources to achieve their full potential. On average, staff across the charity complete a total of 23,000 days of learning each year, which equates to 6 days learning per staff member per year. The learning opportunities range from entry level support for literacy and numeracy and apprenticeships to nursing degrees and leadership and development skills.

"We are undergoing a transformation programme to ensure the care we offer is more personalised and focused on our patients. As part of this reorganisation, in 2018, 57 people within our food service team had their roles put on notice. Every person had the opportunity to either move into an aligned or different role within the charity. 46 employees were re-deployed within the charity; eleven chose to leave our employ."