Nurses are facing increasing workloads as the NHS attempts to deal with financial difficulties, a union survey has revealed.
Half of NHS staff said they have experienced staff shortages over the last year, with 80 per cent reporting an increased workload and 77 per cent increased stress.
The survey results – based on a cross section of more than 8,000 NHS staff – will be submitted this week by Unison as part of its evidence to the NHS pay review body.
According to survey respondents, factors contributing the most to increased workload were vacancy freezes and redundancies, 59 per cent reporting a reduction in the number of staff employed by their organisation.
Just under a third also said they had perceived a decline in the quality of care in their organisation.
Unison head of health Karen Jennings said: “What is truly distressing is that that the survey clearly shows how spending cuts are already threatening to damage the quality of patient care.
“Our survey also reveals that 80 per cent of staff have seen their workload increase and that means fewer staff treating more patients,” she said. “This ties in with reports that NHS organisations are implementing recruitment freezes and making redundancies across the UK.”
As revealed by Nursing Times last week, the Department of Health is considering a national freeze on pay increments (news, page 3, 2 November).
However, Nursing Times learnt in September that foundation trusts were already drawing up their own secret plans to offer staff immunity from redundancy if they agree to have their increments frozen (news, page 1, 28 September).