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Pressure affecting care standards, warn nursing staff


More than half of nurses and midwives say lack of time and resources negatively affects their ability to carry out their role to a high standard, according to a major survey commissioned by unions.

It found 55% of nurses and 62% of midwives were either “fairly” or “very” dissatisfied with their ability to do their job to a high standard. In addition, 50% of specialist public health nurses also reported feeling unhappy about the quality of care they could offer.

“Morale has plummeted in the last year, largely as a consequence of staff shortages and related workload stress”

Josie Irwin

As a result, the research suggests workforce pressures are affecting the roles of nurses and midwives more than any other type of NHS worker.

The survey – conducted by Incomes Data Services on behalf of the 14 unions that comprise the NHS staff side group – found respondents from all professions described staff shortages occurring on a frequent basis.

Overall, it found that 72% of respondents reported that staff shortages occur frequently in their workplace – up from 66% in 2012, when the same survey was last carried out.

More than 85% of midwives and 78% of nurses reported frequent staff shortages in the last 12 months.

Among those surveyed was a director of nursing and quality, who said: “A lot of the NHS is run on goodwill.”

Almost two-thirds of all 30,000 survey respondents said morale was worse compared to a year ago, with most citing increased workplace stress or poor pay.

The proportion of NHS staff who had seriously thought about quitting their job had also increased slightly since 2012 – up from 60% to 66%.

Unison head of health Christina McAnea said: “As it currently stands, working in the NHS is hardly an attractive career option. This report should ring alarm bells.

“NHS workers often sacrifice their own time and money to care for the public,” she said. “They are an incredible force for good and deserve to be looked after.”

Royal College of Nursing head of employment relations Josie Irwin added: “Morale has plummeted in the last year, largely as a consequence of staff shortages and related workload stress.”


Facts about the survey

The report consists of an online survey of 29,975 NHS workers and 15 in depth interviews with senior NHS managers

The data was collected between June and July 2014, with 26% of respondents saying they worked as nurses


Readers' comments (4)

  • It's time for trade unions, professional bodies and nurse/midwifery managers to insist nurses and midwives will NOT breach their duty of care - on the ground, in each department, supporting those who raise concerns.

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  • On the ward I work it happens to be quite often short staff and it is awful because nobody care. Our ward leader states we can cope without 1:1 over day in a bay with 4 beds, where are 3 people wandering, highly confused due to dementia and at high risk of falls. And we also have to look after another patients in cubicles, so practically at least one person might be in the bay permanently, and the other one has to give high standard care to the others. What is upsetting is that the managers don't care about us, over night we are 3 nurses and 2 carers, when full staff, but not rarely we are 2 nurses and 2 carers. It happens once, it happens twice, but this should stop! If we want quality and happy staff and happy patients.

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  • Laha78

    Staff shortages, capacity, patients living longer through modern medicine but as a result sicker when they come into hospital happens on a day to day basis. I was a senior staff nurse in acute admissions for 14 years before burnout, mental and physical exhaustion, forced me to take on a role within quality improvement. My 12 hour shift quite frequently turned into a14 - 18 hour shift with one small break and coffee throughout the day or night to get me through. My standard of care to my patients was not how it should be and my personal life began to suffer as an effect. This is probably the case for 90% of my nursing colleagues! The big wigs are needing to step out of their ivory towers and get down to the shop floor where the real work is happening!!!

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  • We are so short staffed our yard manager often has a set of patients too, so I guess my appraisal which is 2 months over due suffers

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