Nursing staff are working in “intolerable situations” and feel unsupported and undervalued, with many thinking about leaving the profession, according to a Royal College of Nursing survey.
It found 56% of respondents thought too much time was spent on non-nursing duties, with 59% saying they were too busy to provide the level of care that they would like.
“Nursing staff are being placed in intolerable situations. Many nurses skip every break”
In addition, 43% reported an increase in the number of patients they were being asked to care for, while 42% reported recruitment freezes.
Meanwhile, 82% had worked when not feeling well enough to do so, of which 46% said the main reason was stress.
Almost third of all respondents were seeking a new job, with almost a quarter looking to leave healthcare completely.
Over half had worked extra hours to pay the bills and other living expenses and 32% had worked night or weekend shifts to help do so.
The results chime with similar findings published last week by another union and echo a major survey by Nursing Times in 2014, which was widely reported on by the national media.
A report published last Wednesday and based on a survey of 10,500 Unison members working in the NHS found around two thirds were seriously considering leaving their jobs.
Staffing shortages, low pay and changes in the NHS were cited as the key reasons for wanting to move on.
Josie Irwin, RCN head of employment relations, said: “Nursing staff are being placed in intolerable situations. Many nurses skip every break, work late after every shift, do their paperwork in their own time, and the pressure just increases.
“Employers, the NHS and the government need to work together to ensure that there are enough nurses, with the right level of skills,” she added.
The figures were based on the results of an online survey sent to a random sample of RCN members, receiving 4,137 responses.
“We need the Home Office to add nurses onto the shortage occupation list so we are able to find high-calibre nurses from overseas”
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “These surveys reflect the difficult times some NHS Trusts and their staff are facing.
“The commitment to deliver the same standard of care to patients amid rising demand has an understandable impact on the wellbeing of staff,” he said. “Trusts are telling us that we currently do not have enough nurses to meet demand.”
Mr Mortimer repeated his call for nursing to be added to the list of occupations that are deemed to be in short supply and, therefore, outside of government migration quotas.
- Managers lobby Home Office over nurse immigration rules
- Trust chiefs warn visa rules causing nurse recruitment problems
- RCN leader writes to MPs over new immigration rules
“We need, for the next two years, to be able to recruit nurses from overseas while we train new nurses from the UK,” he said.
“We need the Home Office to add nurses onto the shortage occupation list so that, where we are able to find high-calibre nurses from overseas, we can secure their employment for the benefit of patients – and our own NHS workforce,” he added.
What nursing staff told the RCN
One nurse said: “I have to work late most shifts to ensure workload is complete. Too much paperwork and not enough patient care.”
Another said: “The ward is intense and busy. We are running ourselves into the ground, not taking breaks and leaving an hour after shifts end to get all our work done. We should get paid a lot more for this amount of pressure.”
A healthcare assistant working in the independent sector said: “It is very hard work, the majority of people will need basic care at some point of their lives – it is very underappreciated.”