Financial pressures on nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants are severely impacting their quality of life, a report from the Cavell Nurses Trust has found.
The report, Skint, shaken yet still caring. But who is caring for our nurses, surveyed 2254 nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants. It found that 18% of those surveyed had skipped meals in the last year because of financial difficulties. Nearly half (48%), twice the national average, could not afford to keep their homes in a decent state of repair. Additionally, nurses and allied health professionals are 25% more likely to have a long lasting mental or physical health condition, compared to the average member of the public.
‘I was alarmed when I saw the figures,’ said Simon Knighton, chairman of the Cavell Nurses Trust. ‘Typically, the people who provide frontline care are among the lower sections of the caring professions. Very often they are going from paycheck to paycheck.’ Mr Knighton drew on the example of a nurse who underwent a cancer scare, leading to her being ‘knocked over the edge’ as a result of taking time off work.
It also found that 14% of nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants have experienced abusive home situations, compared with 4.4% nationally. Additionally, one in every seven has experienced domestic abuse in the past year, while 2.2% of respondents had been injured as a result of domestic violence in the last year.
Carmel Bagness, the professional lead for women's health and midwifery at the Royal College of Nursing, said that it was not surprising that some nurses face mental or physical health problems with the NHS under such strain. 'Not only is it damaging to the nurses themselves, but it will impact on patients and healthcare as a whole. Their care and compassion should be celebrated and rewarded – not make them more vulnerable to abuse,' she added.
Mr Knighton said he wanted the report to highlight and raise the value of the nursing profession in the minds of the public. ‘There are people out there who haven’t heard of us who can’t put food on the table, can’t buy shoes for their children and can’t replace broken furniture. It is a national disgrace that this is allowed to happen,’ he said.