Nurses in England have lower levels of job satisfaction and are at higher risk of “burnout” than their counterparts in most other European countries, a major nursing study has revealed.
Only Greece has a higher percentage of nurses that consider themselves to be burnt out, findings from the RN4CAST study show.
Researchers from the University of Southampton and the National Nursing Research Unit at King’s College London surveyed over 2,900 nurses at 46 hospitals. The results were compared with samples from 11 other European countries and the US. More than 150,000 nurses were surveyed in total.
The results – published online in the BMJ – show that 78% of nurses in Greece felt burnt out, followed by 42% in England, 41% in Ireland and 40% in Poland. This is in contrast with the Netherlands and Switzerland, where only 10% and 15% felt burnt out respectively.
Other findings also make for gloomy reading, with 39% of nurses in England saying they were dissatisfied with their job and 44% that they intended to leave their job in the next year. Only nurses in Greece and Ireland were less satisfied.
In addition, 64% of nurses in England were not confident hospital managers would “resolve patients’ problems” and 34% were not confident patients could manage their own care after discharge. But even greater proportions were not confident in those issues in most other countries.
Researchers also recorded nurse staffing ratios. They found the average number of patients per registered nurse in England was 8.6. But in Belgium, Germany, Greece, Poland and Spain there were more than 10 patients per nurse.
The authors said in all the countries surveyed “hospitals with good work environments and better professional nurse staffing have more satisfied patients and nurses, and evidence of better quality and safety of care”.
Peter Griffiths, chair of health services research at Southampton University, said: “We are now analysing hospital data on death rates and rates of complications to see if high patient to staff ratios impact on these outcomes.”
Anne Marie Rafferty, professor of Nursing Policy at King’s College London, added: “It is also clear that England’s nurses are working in highly pressurised environments, resulting in lower levels of job satisfaction and greater ‘burnout’ compared to some other European health economies.”
Commenting on the findings, Lizzie Jelfs, director of policy at the Council of Deans of Health, said: “Given this evidence on the importance of ratios of registered nurses for high quality care, it is crucial that workforce planners consider the possible impact of cuts in the number of places for training adult nurses for the quality of care delivered to patients in years to come.”
The Royal College of Nursing last week published a separate report which recommended at least one registered nurse for between five and seven older patients. It said one nurse currently cared for around nine patients on older people’s wards, based on a survey of 1,700 nurses.
The results of the 2011 NHS staff survey were also released last week, covering 366 organisations and 134,967 staff. It showed 51% of staff would recommend their organisation as a place to work, down from 53% in 2010 and 55% in 2009.
|Percentage of nurses in different countries who say they feel burnt out|
|Average patient to nurse ratios in each country|
|Country||Patients per RN|