LESS than half of NHS staff in Hampshire believe patient care is the top priority at their trust, according to a survey.

Just 29 per cent of staff at Hampshire Primary Care Trust, including GPs and dentists, agreed with the statement patient care came first.

The Healthcare Commission survey also indicated that only 31 per cent of ambulance staff believe South Central Ambulance Services made patient care a top priority.

Nearly a half (49 per cent) of staff at Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare Trust, which runs the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, and Hampshire Partnership Trust (47 per cent) which provides mental health services, agreed patients are put first.

The poll also shows wide variations between trusts on measures to fight infections such as Clostridium difficile and MRSA.

Less than a third (29 per cent) of ambulance staff said hot water, soap and alcohol gel, was always available when they needed it and a further 27 per cent most of the time.

In Winchester hospital trust, 53 per cent said handwashing equipment was always available and 30 per cent most of the time.

Concerns about the level of violence faced during working hours and the disrepair of ambulances were also highlighted by the survey.

One third of those questioned at South Central Ambulance Services had been attacked by a patient in the last 12 months.

In Hampshire Partnership Trust, the figure was 23 per cent for mental health workers, compared to eight per cent at Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare Trust and five per cent at Hampshire Primary Care Trust.

Less than a quarter (21 per cent) of those working in ambulances believed they were kept in a good state of repair.

Anna Walker, chief executive of the independent watchdog, said overall the results showed job satisfaction but there were challenges such as violence in the workplace.

She said: "NHS staff provide vital, often life-saving care. Yet they do not feel valued by their trusts and communication with senior management is poor. These are things trusts must and can change.

"At a time when public concern about healthcare associated infections is high, I'm pleased to see some improvement in this area. But trusts must make sure that frontline staff always have the necessary equipment to wash their hands."

Jim Robson, head of human resources at Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare Trust, said he was satisfied with the generally positive results that rates the trust highly on flexible work options and work/life balance.

A spokesman for South Central Ambulance Services said: "In general we achieved above average results when compared to other ambulance trusts in England. However, we recognise that the survey highlights areas where we need to improve in order to support staff more effectively."

She added: "SCAS has a zero tolerance stance on bullying and harassment against staff and has, and will take forward prosecutions against individuals who attack or harass staff."

A statement from Hampshire Primary Care Trust said: "The PCT welcomes the findings as this is the first survey of staff attitudes since the PCT was created in 2006 and gives a baseline of where we've done well, and what could be improved.

"For example staff are above the national average for having health and safety training and are adept at reporting incidents and near misses.

"However the results show there are areas in need of improvement and most of these have already been recognised as areas to address."