Just one in 10 nurses believe the NHS is currently able to meet demand, reveals a new survey by the Royal College of Nursing.
Meanwhile, more than a third – 34% – say the health service needs serious improvement, according to the survey of more than 10,500 nursing staff from across the UK.
“It is simply not sustainable to have the same number of staff caring for increasing numbers of patients”
The results of the survey, which was completed by 10,554 RCN members between February and March this year, were unveiled at the union’s annual congress in Glasgow.
The RCN said the research showed the “twin pressures of a lack of investment and rising demand” were being felt across all sectors.
Just 10% of survey respondents said they felt the health service was currently able to meet demand.
Overall 84% of participants said they had noticed the impact of a rising number of older patients, with 62% reporting an increasing struggle for hospital beds.
Three quarters – 75% – said NHS finances had got worse over the course of their careers.
Thirty per cent identified staff shortages as the biggest problem facing the profession.
“We are constantly being told to reduce cost, and our services are constantly being ‘squeezed’,” said one nurse who took part in the survey. “But how much more can we take away from an already failing service?”
Another commented: “The NHS is working beyond its capacity and cannot continue to function like this. It is being managed in a reactive away and this is tearing it apart.”
RCN chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies said services needed to adapt to demand but currently did not have the resources to do so.
“Nursing staff are already feeling the impact of an ageing population and it is simply not sustainable to have the same number of staff caring for increasing numbers of patients,” she said.
“A concerted effort to put nursing at the heart of new models of care, as well as providing adequate social care, will go a long way towards helping it to meet demand,” said Ms Davies.
“The nursing workforce also needs to be given the tools and opportunity to adapt to the nation’s changing care needs. It’s not just about having more nurses, but having the right specialist nurses in the right settings,” she added.