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RCN: Nurses being put in “intolerable situations”

Nursing staff are working in “intolerable situations” in terms of hours, workload and morale, putting patient safety at risk, according to new Royal College of Nursing (RCN) research published today.

In the survey of 4,137 RCN members, 59% said they are too busy to provide the level of care that they would like. Similarly 43% have seen an increase in the number of patients they are being asked to care for, and 42% reported recruitment freezes where they work.

Moreover, 82% had worked when not feeling well enough to do so (15% had done so more than five times) and 46% attributed this to work-related stress.

Discussing the survey, Josie Irwin, head of employment relations at the RCN, said: “Nursing staff are being placed in intolerable situations, working themselves sick and still not feeling they have been able to deliver the care they would like.

“Many nurses skip every break, work late after every shift, do their paperwork in their own time, and the pressure just increases. Many are coming into work despite being unwell, often due to work-related stress. This is no good for nurses, but we know it will have an effect on patients too,” she added.

Almost a third of all respondents (31%) were seeking a new job, with almost a quarter looking to leave healthcare completely, and 29% not feeling nursing will offer them a secure job in the future.

Irwin continued: “Employers, the NHS and the government need to work together to ensure that there are enough nurses, with the right level of skills, where they are needed. There needs to be a recognition that care is a part of all our futures, and we should value it, invest in it and train enough people to deliver it well.”