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Nursing morale ‘has dropped through the floor’

Survey reveals almost a third plan to leave

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 05 October 2015

Nurses feel undervalued and are thinking of leaving the profession, according to a new survey, published today.

The Royal College of Nursing, which published its survey results, found that almost a third of respondents are seeking a new job, and says nursing morale has “dropped through the floor”.

The nurses surveyed spoke of working in “intolerable situations” with a third (34%) saying that bullying and harassment is a problem in their workplace. 

Other key results revealed that over half (56%) said too much time is spent on non-nursing duties, with 59% saying they are too busy to provide the level of care they would like.  

Some 43% have seen an increase in the number of patients they are being asked to care for whilst 42% of those in the NHS reported recruitment freezes where they work.

In addition, 82% had worked when not feeling well enough to do so (15% had done so more than five times); 46% said the main reason was work-related stress.

Consequently, fewer than half (45%) would recommend nursing as a career and 29% do not feel nursing will offer them a secure job in the future.

Almost a third of all respondents (31%) were seeking a new job, with almost a quarter looking to leave health care completely.

Over half (53%) have worked extra hours to earn money to pay for bills and other everyday living expenses and a third (32%) have worked night or weekend shifts to help pay bills and everyday living expenses, leading to serious concerns about keeping experienced staff in the profession in the face of continuing pay restraint.

One nurse surveyed, explained: “I have to work late most shifts to ensure workload is complete. Too much paperwork and not enough patient care.”

Another said: “The ward is intense and busy. We are running ourselves into the ground, not taking breaks and leaving an hour after shifts end to get all our work done. We should get paid a lot more for this amount of pressure.”

A healthcare assistant working in the independent sector added: “It is very hard work, the majority of people will need basic care at some point of their lives – it is very underappreciated.”

Commenting on the results of the survey, 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.

“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 a 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.”

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