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Morale of nurses "at 10-year low"

Fears over training, job security, and career progression have seen morale among nurses plummet to a 10-year low, a new study shows.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) quizzed 9,000 of its members across the UK for the survey, and is now warning that nurses' goodwill is "at breaking point".

The poll comes as the RCN ballots nurses in England on industrial action in a row over the staggered 2.5% pay offer from the government.

It reveals many are suffering financial difficulties, as more than 25% are having to take a second job, and 87% feel they receive lower wages compared with other professions.

Some 55% of nurses believe they are too busy to provide the level of care they would like, and 58% work longer hours than they are contracted to do.

RCN general secretary Dr Peter Carter said: "To have such a large part of the nursing workforce genuinely worried about the security of their employment is simply unacceptable.

"Despite feeling undervalued, underpaid and under threat, our nurses continue to put in the hours and dedication to deliver high quality patient care."

But Health Secretary Alan Johnson said: "No doubt this has been a very tough year for nurses.

"I understand the problems they face and their frustration with the staged pay award.

"This is a difficult but essential part of the government's overall public sector pay strategy to control inflation so that we don't see a return to higher interest rates and higher prices."


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Watch video: Richard Jones, RCN deputy director, Wales on Agenda for Change

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"I have had to restart doing extra shifts in my old Trust as I can't afford to have any quality of life on a nurses basic salary. After the degrees, the post grad diploma, the endless courses now we are apparently responsible for the government's inflation targets. It is unacceptable and I can't be the only one considering my future surely? Please lets stand together at last" - Gill, London

"I definately feel undervalued. As a practice nurse we do lots of the health promotion/prevention work but do not get paid to the value we deserve. Without us GPs wouldn't be earning the sort of money they now expect - Name and address supplied

"I feel increasingly that our work is becomming a money earning operation and that the patient care will be compromised by money saving cutbacks caused by health authority's mismanagement of their budgets. The government seem to be hellbent on reducing public faith in the NHS and the slowly increasing private sector will incidiously replace an already failing system with little retaliation from either the staff or the public"   - Name and address supplied

"I wonder how Alan Johnson responds to the great disparity in healthcare professionals' salaries, particularly in general practice? GP salaries have greatly increased in the last two years while many nurses working in general practice have effectively had a pay cut (despite an increase in workload). As a result of the implementation of Agenda for Change my salary has not increased at all since 2004 and the staged pay increase adds insult to injury. Much is made in the media of the junior doctors' job fiasco but little if nothing is reported on the effect of Agenda for Change for nursing and allied professions" - Name and address supplied

Yes. I work in general practice, and five of our seven GPs are now working a four-day week. The GPs are happy with their salary -  who wouldnt be after a 40% rise in the past 2-3 years, yet we do most of the hard work involving health screening, travel clinics, baby immunisations etc, etc" - Name and address supplied

"Very tough, NHS deficits affect all the nurses and the patients' standard of care is going down due to the cuts" - Name and address supplied

"It's not only qualified nurses that feel undervalued but those like myself. I am a healthcare assistant with NVQ3 which my practice encouraged me to do but will now not let me train up to do other things that would greatly reduce the workload on the practice nurse. I work in a busy six doctor practice that has three practice nurses and myself. If you saw my job descripiton you would be amazed at how much I do and I know my colleagues are grateful for my help, which I am happy to give, but I feel sorry for them as they are just inundated. If they made more use of those a little lower down the ranks according to their ability and payed them a decent wage, nurse morale would be much better" - A. Leach, Wallsey on the Wirral

"It does not surprise me that nurses are feeling undervalued. I have sat on a professional executive committee and have been shocked by the lack of knowledge and support that the senior nurses in management roles have shown to colleagues. Worringly these people are portraying themselves as nurses, laughing that they are up-to-date with their NMC registration when they haven't even done any clinical work for years, some as long as 15-20 years ago. How can we trust them to give accurate advice and direction on nursing issues to the board? The NMC should be ashamed to register such people as nurses. One senior nurse was registered on the basis that she spoke to patients making complaints about clinical issues!!!!" - Name and address supplied

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