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”
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