September 3, 2013
Almost two-thirds of nurses have considered quitting their jobs in the last 12 months because they are so stressed, a survey has found.
Swinging cuts to the numbers of nurses in the National Health Service (NHS) have left many feeling overburdened in their work and unable to give the care they want, the Daily Mirror said.
A survey of 10,000 staff by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) found that 62% had thought about leaving over the last year because they are under so much stress in their job.
A further 61% felt unable to give patients the care they wanted because they were too busy, while 83% believed their workload had increased in the last 12 months.
Official figures from the Health and Social Care Information Center last week revealed the NHS has lost more than 5,000 nurses in just three years.
Data for May this year reveals there were 348,311 qualified staff working in nursing, midwifery and health visiting, down 5,601 on the 353,912 in May 2010.
As well as staff cuts, nurses have also had to endure a pay freeze between 2010 and 2012, the Mirror said, followed by a 1% cap on increases from this year until 2016.
Rachael McIlroy, from the RCN, said: "Salaries have remained static while household bills are rising, and people are finding it really hard.
"Extra unpaid hours is an issue because there are too few staff, and job security is an acute concern."
She added: "The pay freeze, staff shortages and negativity following the Francis inquiry means nurses feel hard done by."
The Francis Inquiry highlighted the unnecessary suffering and neglect at Stafford Hospital, when hundreds more people died than would normally be expected.
Peter Carter, the chief executive of the RCN, told the Mirror: "At a time when patients are so dependent on the nursing workforce, the idea that so many are contemplating leaving just doesn't bear thinking about.
"The reality is that nurses are caring for more patients, with fewer staff having less time. This just can't continue.
"An NHS caring for a million people every 36 hours can't survive with too few staff; you just can't do good care on the cheap.
"These interim findings deliver a stark warning, and one that those sitting in Whitehall would be very wise to listen to."
A Department of Health spokesperson said: "The staff working for our NHS are our health service's most precious resource. Nurses are working extremely hard and continue to provide a high quality of care in the face of rising healthcare demands.
"Hospitals should make sure staffing levels are appropriate to the needs of their local population. Overall, the number of clinical staff in the NHS has risen by nearly 3,500 and the number of admin staff has fallen by over 23,400 since May 2010.
"The government has also recently announced the new chief inspector of hospitals who will take action if hospitals are found to be compromising patient care by not having the right number of staff on wards."
Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer at NHS England, said: "Nurses and midwives carry out a demanding role and, as a nurse myself, I fully recognize the pressures that they are often under.
"The Keogh and Berwick reviews and the Francis Report are all very clear that local care providers need to use evidence to ensure they have the right amount of staff, with the right skills, in the right place to deliver high quality care.
"This is a fundamental aspect of 'Compassion in Practice,' the nursing, midwifery and care strategy for England.
"Central to 'Compassion in Practice' is the strengthening of nursing leadership and the importance of having the right culture and environment so staff have a positive experience and are fully supported to deliver the best possible care for patients."
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