Working conditions in the NHS have severely impacted on the morale of nurses, research by the RCN has found.
The survey found that 56% of the 4137 respondents said that they spent too much time performing non-nursing work, while 59% said that they awere too busy to provide the level of care that they would like. This is despite nurses working overtime to earn enough money, due to the pay restraint seen the last few years. Over half said that they have worked extra hours to earn money to pay for bills and other everyday living expenses.
Additionally, the survey found that the situation in the NHS was impacting the health of nurses, with 82% of respondents saying that they had worked when not feeling well enough to do so. Of these, 46% said the main reason for feeling ill was work-related stress.
Josie Irwin, head of employment relations at the RCN, said: ‘Nursing staff are being placed in intolerable situations, working themselves sick and still not feeling they have been able to deliver the care they would like. Many nurses skip every break, work late after every shift, do their paperwork in their own time, and the pressure just increases. Many are coming in to work despite being unwell, often due to work related stress. This is no good for nurses, but we know it will have an effect on patients too.’
The survey found that the pressures on the workforce were causing staff to consider leaving the profession, with 31% of respondents saying they were looking for a new job, with almost a quarter looking to leave healthcare completely. As a result of this, 45% of the nurses who replied to the survey said that they would not recommend nursing as a career, while 29% felt that nursing will not offer them a secure job in the future.
This echoes results from a survey by health union Unison, released last week, stating that two-thirds of NHS staff are considering leaving. The reasons stated for staff disatisfaction was lack of pay rises, excessive hours and staff shortages.
Ms Irwin urged employers, the NHS and the government need to work together to ensure that there are enough nurses, with the right level of skills, where they are needed. 'There needs to be recognition that care is a part of all our futures, and we should value it, invest in it and train enough people to deliver it well.’
Danny Mortimer, the chief executive of NHS Employers, stated that nurses need to be added onto the shortage ocupation list 'so that, where we are able to find high-calibre nurses from overseas, we can secure their employment for the benefit of patients and our own NHS workforce.'