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Nurses hit by workload hike as cuts force down staff numbers


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).


Readers' comments (12)

  • On the day the stafford enquiry begins this story highlights what is effectively the root cause of patient care problems within the NHS.....not enough staff (and not enough nurses).

    Staff shortages = falling standards of care = hospital scandal (just around the corner).

    I am now of the opinion that govt ministers and NHS chiefs really don't care about patient care and definately couldn't give a monkey's about nurses. We just seem to get one awful govt after another in this wretched country.

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  • It seems that the whole structure of the nursing profession now needs changing to adapt to new times ahead. Our vision and ideals of the service we wish to provide have been shattered by poor government, management and leadership for so long there seems no other recourse, or else get out. It is not an easy option to find jobs in another field anymore either. once UK nurses were sought after all over the world and by employers in nearly every other field as we were so multiskilled. However, now one needs costly and lengthy further training, a load of diplomas and experience if one wants to change track and for older nurses this is well-nigh impossible unless one knows somebody influential and has a lucky break.

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  • Hooray for being allowed to 'buy' job security by giving up our increments!
    Will senior managers give up bonuses?

    Our pay is frozen already - why should those who are entitled contractually to an increment lose it? This is forcing contract changes which is immoral and unethical if not illegal.

    This is major bullying on a systemic basis.

    I have voted Lib Dem in the past - but never again: and looking at his party in the opinion polls it seems I am not alone.

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  • why do nurses in the uk think they have more rights and entitlements than the rest of the population?

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  • throughout my long career I have remained optimistic and under the delusion that with the advances of medicine and technology things could only get better so I have stuck with it. However, staff shortages have always been with us and worsening as time goes by and working conditions and the quality of care given to patients has only detiorated with the years and will continue to do so until the whole system is restructured to meet changing practices and the needs of the population.

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  • When we had to fight for small annual increments athat we phased in in stages over a year giving us less than the agreed % for that year. No one in the private sector came out and fought our cause saying it was un fair. Yet when we have fought to get an agreed settlement including increments and they are now receiving less in the way of pay increases and bonuses - and lets not be under any illusion - they are still usually better than what we have been given. They are now up in arms well booho. They should try studdying for the safe lenght of time as a nuses, just to be given life and death responsibilities, juggling decisions that would baffel most CEOs and work with streesed demoralised staff that are often off sick. So you are constantly working in a less than optimal environment for patients. The fat cats at the top who have forgotten what it is to work on the wards should get of thier backsides and do one shift per week on the wards.

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  • I feel so sorry for the patients in all this mess. nurse are so demorilized with the lack of pay increases no incraments shortage of staff all the time. they are not getting the care they need. why is it that a train driver gets double what a nurse gets is it cos they used to go on strike and still do so the govenment cave in and pay what they want. out of all the emergency service nurse are the worst paied and do the most training . we also suffer physical and verbal abuse as a regular part of the shift from relatives as well as patients. i work at a hospita that has just won foundation status they gave the cheif exec a massive bounus and a 15% pay rise just days befor they put up the carparking fees to £300 mininmun a year which they take out of your wages at source like you are naughty children the same weeek told nurses no pay increase no incramnent increas no job securrity and by the way we will have to cut your pay down as we cant affored to pay you now the govenment has cut the amount they give to the hospital I have £50 left at the end of a month to live on feed 3 children is it any wonder we are so depressed with nursing I did ask for help from the benifits agency was told give up work because i earn to much for any benifits so here i am stuck at work wondering if my husband had divorced me instead of died i would be better off but i have always worked i love nursing so here i am living of £5o a month. i wonder if i could train to be a train driver. £30,000 sounds so much better

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  • Why doosnt the prime minister spend a month going to hospitals and working on the wards and in a&e to find out just how hard nurses work and the abuse they put up with he should also join the armed force i just hope the falklands dont start up agian cos we would not be able to defend them this time I know the country is short of money but the wages and second homes of mp are huge they are a public serves too should they not take a pay cut like everyone else I watch parliement and no one is in the chamber and the ones taht are are asleep. i suppose the are working in their offices filling out paper work etc. i remember the mp who lost his temper because of an egg being throwen at him and lashing out i wish nurses only had eggs throwen at them they get far worse and are not allowed to hit back. there are plenty of other places to cut money from what about all the items the govenment have ordered thaaat have overrun and they are sstill paying the companies( nice job if you can get it ) stop paying them until the goods are delivered and in working order .

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  • Anonymous | 10-Nov-2010 12:00 pm

    this should be sent to Mr Cameron as unfortunately only writing in these pages isn't going to attract any notice and if sent to the press, mp, representative or RCN it is only going to get lost in a pile of waste paper.

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  • sad stories. we are going to retire in our lifetime with a heavy hearts as we are NOT given importance by the government.

    bless the souls of all nurses in this generation - be patient the rewards are waiting afterlife. we will make those people who are now reaping cheese and cakes wipe our bum afterlife and suffer what we are dealing at present time.

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