An overwhelming majority of the public believes that the NHS requires more nurses, a study commissioned by the RCN has found.
The study, conducted by Ipsos MORI, found that 88% of the public thinks that the NHS needs more nurses to deliver safe care for patients. It also asked respondents about their attitudes towards nurse pay and found that only 19% of people thought that nurses on the frontline were paid fairly for the work they did.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: 'Nurses should take heart from the clear public support they have for the work they do. However, this is not enough on its own to sustain morale through hard times, in the face of negative media portrayals, which the public see as unfair. Many respondents in the Ipsos MORI survey don't believe that nurses providing frontline care are paid a fair wage for what they do, raising concerns about the UK's ability to keep people in the profession for the long term.'
The survey was conducted to highlight the role of nurses in the run up to the general election. It showed that 83% of the public thought that nurses should speak up about their beliefs in the election. The RCN has previously stated that there are, on average, 1800 nurses in each constituency who could play a key role in the election.
Dr Carter added: 'This election has shown how central the NHS is to people's lives. It also shows what we, the British public, expect from our politicians in responding to the priorities that affect us all. Voters are astute in their understanding of how health services work, and how much they rely on having the right number of staff to operate safely. Our Frontline First campaign has demonstrated that nurse staffing has been cut back to the bare bones, and people are looking to whoever forms the next government to ensure that it can't happen again.'