• Thursday, June 20, 2024


Nearly half of NHS nurses consider quitting, survey reveals

Nine out of ten nurses in England report working while unwell

Photo: iStock

By: Pramod Thomas

NEARLY half of NHS nursing staff demoralised by poor care and low pay, and are planning or considering quitting, a new survey revealed.

It also revealed that almost nine out of ten nurses in England report working while unwell, highlighting the immense pressures within the healthcare provider.

A survey of more than 11,000 nursing staff across the UK by the Royal College of Nursing found out that 85 per cent of nurses attended work despite facing issues like stress, back pain, colds, anxiety, or depression last year.

Nearly half did so between two and five times, and nearly one in five did so on more than five occasions.

The trend of nurses working through illness is increasing, up from 77 per cent in 2021.

The nursing body attributes this behaviour to nurses feeling compelled to fill rota gaps and ensure patients receive optimal care.

According to the survey, more than 70 per cent feel overwhelmed, while 65.6 per cent believe their pay doesn’t reflect their skills and effort.

From 2013 to 2023, more nurses felt overwhelmed at work, rising from 59.3 per cent to 71.1 per cent. Also, those feeling too busy to provide ideal care increased from 56 per cent to 65.9 per cent. Only two in five would suggest nursing as a career, with 21 per cent expressed regret for choosing it, the survey added.

“Over the last ten years, nursing staff have become increasingly demoralised by the level of care they are able to provide. The stress and anxiety from trying to meet the needs of patients is forcing them to work whilst sick and now many want to quit entirely. It is a terrible state of affairs,” said Prof Pat Cullen, RCN general secretary and chief executive,

“This last decade has seen nursing staff grapple with devastating workforce shortages as successive governments fail to invest in the profession. In every setting from the NHS to social care, patients are suffering. Huge losses in staff pay only add to a feeling of disrespect for dedicated professionals who are sacrificing their own welfare to care for patients.

Also, pay emerges as the primary concern, with 88 per cent of nurses citing a pay rise as the most significant change they desire. Financial struggles are widespread, with some nurses opting out of pension schemes to cope with the cost-of-living crisis. Additionally, 70 per cent of nurses report feeling anxious or sleep-deprived due to financial strain.

The NHS in England faces a shortage of 34,709 nurses, exacerbating the strain on existing staff.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The most recent NHS staff survey showed improvements in morale and staff experience, and the rate of nursing vacancies in NHS trusts is at its lowest since records began in 2017.

“In addition, the NHS long-term workforce plan – backed by over £2.4 billion government funding – will increase the number of nurses by up to 190,000 by 2036/37.”

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