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'Our nurses are burnt out but still offering good care'

  • Comments (26)

It was probably not much of a surprise to nurses out there on the frontline that their experiences are nearer to those of nurses in Greece, a country facing economic meltdown, than nurses in countries we would feel more usually feel comparable with such as Holland.

This fascinating survey published in the BMJ shows that 42% of nurses in England felt burnt out compared with 78% of nurses in Greece, 41% in Ireland and 40% in Poland. However only 10% of nurses in Holland and 15% in Switzerland felt burnt out.

Burnt out but still offering good care. A closer look at the statistics reveals that despite reporting high levels of burnout, nurses in England report lower levels than some other countries of wards that have ‘poor or fair quality of care’. For example 19% of nurses in England reported the ward they are working on to have ‘poor or fair quality of care’ compared with 35% in Holland, 27% in Sweden, 35% in Germany and 28% in Belgium.

Nurses were also asked if they would give their ward a poor or failing safety grade. The results from the nurses in England were comparable with the majority of other European countries at 7% compared with Greece at 17% and Poland at 18%.

So burnt out but still soldiering on. But for how long? The survey shows 39% of nurses in England are dissatisfied with their job and 44% intending to leave their job in the next year. Let’s hope that a good proportion of the 44% are planning to find another job in the NHS otherwise there is a phenomenal crisis brewing.     

This survey of 2,900 nurses at 46 hospitals took place in 2009-10 before the details and extent of the government health reforms became clear. So it seems likely that the level of stress and pressure of English nurses will move even closer to that of Greece as they face the uncertainty of life in today’s NHS.

  • Comments (26)

Readers' comments (26)

  • Anonymous

    I absolutely agree that, as nurses, we are burning out and desperately struggling to provide quality care. And with such a relevant question, 'For how much longer'? I suspect not too much longer.

    My plea would be to all the professional bodies like yourselves, other journals, RCN, NMC. When are you going to fight our corner? when are we going to get your help to bring this situation to the absolute forefront? We don't do this individually, apart from being too concerned as to whether we would actually keep our job if we dared critise to our buisness lead employers, but no time, exhaustion...

    Or we can just continue until all the spirit has been worked out of us, the good'ens go and we end up with an NHS ran by nurses lacking in drive and compassion, because it will become 'just a job'.

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  • Steve Williams

    Jolly dammed good show for all those British gals and boys who are standing up for God, The Queen and the Empire (whoops scrub that last one) and for Sir David Camelot and that other little liberal twerp....

    Yus, boys and girls as we are huddled around this Jamboree camp fire too celebrate the 100th anniversary of Dame Baden Bin Nightingale Owl's last big foray into the depths of the deepest sea.... let us give a last big "hoorhah" and a chorus of 'Ging Gang Gooley Gooley Watcha - Ging Gan Goooo' as we shuffle the deckchairs around the first (upper) class decks the rapidly-sinking NHS Titanic.

    Women and children off first - unless you are an Italian Captain - or an Officer - or an MP - or someone else with a lot of money to waste on private Health Care....

    Yup, like The Herald Of Free Enterprise and that latest Costa Concordia... it us - the grunts - who will get the blame - the officers and the Captains jump ship and get away Scott free.

    And you wonder why we are all pee'd off and looking for other countries to go and live in?

    Ditto here then hen....

    And you wonder why the UK is so short of qualified nurses who speak English as their first language?

    Maybe you should politely ask The Daily Mail as to why they are having a "witch hunt" against British Nurses - then ask them why they are lambasting the lack of "English" in most of the nurses who are still left here in the UK!

    Never mind - we'll still make do. After all... We've still got the Women's Institute, Mother's Union and The Girl Guides. Pass the biscuits around my dear - another muffin Vicar?

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  • Steve Williams

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  • This comment has been removed for bullying and not adhering to our terms and conditions.

  • Steve Williams

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  • This comment has been removed for not adhering to our terms and conditions and bullying staff members of Nursing Times

  • ""So burnt out but still soldiering on. But for how long? The survey shows 39% of nurses in England are dissatisfied with their job and 44% intending to leave their job in the next year. Let’s hope that a good proportion of the 44% are planning to find another job in the NHS otherwise there is a phenomenal crisis brewing.""

    Now then 44% are planning to leave their job??This percentage is massive!
    I would say that any of those 44% would not be stepping a barr into the same line of work that they are preparing to leave within the next year. Why on earth would they walk from one burn out job into another of the same insane conditions??
    Nurses in UK are sinking fast, and the blame lies as worlwide , directly with Government ( and might I say a total lack of direction and support from the RCN )
    This survay I would now consider invalid as from the dates and considering the reforms that are now taking place over there.
    God help the health service now if the figures were 44%, in 2009??
    I am from Victoria Australia.
    Nurses here 5 months have just fought and WON one of the bloodiest battles with State LIBERALS.
    Nearly 4000 nurses had handed in Authorities of Resignation and we had numerous hospitals on 4 hour walk outs. It was hard....bloody hard, but we finally got results ( keeping patients still safe with night staffing levels).
    We were under grave threat of losing out 1:4 Patient Ratios and having untrained/ unregistered carers put into our Acute Health Sector as part of the numbers.
    This is what our fight was for.
    We kept our Ratios, and the introduction of Healthcare Assistants was abandoned.
    Pay Rise was approx 18% over 3.7 years.
    Our continued focus was to keep patients and nurses safe and continue giving quality care.
    Much of our research and tools came from the UKs failing in the NHS, and what nurses over there are enduring.
    So "Burnt Out But Still Soldiering on'' is NOT safe for nurses or patients!
    SHAME ON THE GOVERNMENT
    AND RCN PLEASE GET ACTIVE BEFORE YOU FIND YOURSELVES WITHOUT NURSES TO PAY YOUR FEES!

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  • Steve Williams

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  • Steve Williams

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  • Anonymous

    Having been a nurse for over 20 years never before have I witnessed such low morale amongst nurses they feel that they are working in a blame culture and not being suported by senior managers. The wards are being managed by temporary staff or bank nurse staff there is no continuity of care, We are meant to be a caring profession but if your Managers dont care about you and your well being then who will. In my opinion this is a poor example of the nursing profession. I urge any nurses suffering from stress or burn out to contact their representing bodies for help and assistance.

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  • Steve Williams

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