There has been a series of setbacks for the NHS trust in charge of running Queen Alexandra Hospital but that fact can not cushion this latest blow.
We are under no illusion that working in the NHS can be high-pressured and stressful. But the vast majority of our dedicated health service staff enter their profession in spite of the challenges they know they will face. Helping and caring for people is their vocation and the rewards that come from that often speak for themselves.
And yet a Care Quality Commission survey indicates that morale at QA, in Cosham, is lower than at many other hospitals around the country.
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust finds itself in the bottom 20 per cent in terms of staff motivation and subsequently the top 20 per cent for staff feeling under so much pressure that they want to leave their job.
No one takes the decision to leave a job lightly. It takes an awful lot of soul-searching, especially in light of the fact that unemployment in the UK has now reached a 17-year high.
Employers must take staff morale seriously. A motivated workforce can be a powerful thing but a shift in morale can be destructive and contagious.
It is deeply concerning to learn that more than half of the staff who took part in this survey would not want their own family or friends to be treated at QA.
That is not a glowing appraisal and made all the more alarming by the fact that this verdict comes directly from the hospital’s own staff.
The survey showed some signs of improvement and it is right to acknowledge that not all staff took part.
We understand that the NHS as a whole is facing considerable challenges but it is inevitable that questions will be raised about whether decisions taken by the trust have had an impact on these results.
The decision to axe the G5 ward, a £6m deficit and controversy surrounding the private finance initiative used to build and maintain our super-hospital won’t have gone unnoticed by staff.