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.