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Workload 'bad for nurses' health'

Mounting workloads and staff cuts are having a negative impact on patient care, according to a poll of midwives and nurses.

The study revealed that 75% say the number of patients they are treating has risen in the last year and two-thirds have considered leaving the profession.

The Unison poll quizzed more than 2,000 nurses and midwives and found that 88% of them said their workload had increased during the first year of the coalition government, with 65% believing that the increase is undermining the safety and care of patients.

It also revealed that 61% had seen a reduction in staff numbers in their unit, with 36% reporting redundancies at their workplace.

Of just over 500 staff who knew how many posts had been cut, just over 6% of staff knew of more than 500 job losses at their NHS trust, 10% said more than 200, 24% said more than 100 and 60% said fewer than 90 posts were going, 24% said more than 100 and 10% said more than 200.

Around two-thirds of nurses and midwives (67%) said increasing workloads had impacted on their own health, with 69% claiming their job was bad for family life.

Gail Adams, Unison Head of Nursing, said: "The results of this damning survey are both sad and shocking.

"Nurses and midwives see first hand the damage that the Government's cuts are inflicting on patient care, so it is perhaps not surprising that 65% say they have considered leaving the NHS."

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "We are passionate about the NHS and want to safeguard it for the future.

"We are investing £11.5 billion of funding and reinvesting every penny of efficiency savings back into frontline care, meaning £1.7 billion a year by 2014/15 will be reinvested to improve services for patients.

"But the NHS must change to safeguard its future. That is why we are modernising it, by giving more power to doctors and nurses and by stripping away bureaucracy."

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I think we should all take a stand as on this, we are having to add more and more into the same timescales, it's absolutley disgusting, they are waiting for a fatality to happen, I wanted to be nurse at space I was comfortable with, however every year when you have appraisals you have to decide what more you want to do. There comes a time in a person's life when
they have done what they need to do, yet we are not allowed, I what to stay at a specific place and no more, the expectations are higher and higher there's no limit, we are all pushed to the limits. If I could leave I would do it" - Name and address supplied

"It is not just all about the nursing team. All this extra workload is then passed on to admin and consultants' PAs who are severely overstretched. Let's not forget this important part of the team. They do not just sit and type all day, their organisation and PR role are not always appreciated.
Without them, no letters, no communication to patients, GP and others involved in the patients' care. They are always available on the end of the phone to distressed patients and relatives" - Sue Mildenhall, Norfolk

"Not only is the increase in workload leading to poorer care by stressed nursing teams, this will not only lead to lack of motivation and morale, but increase in staff sick leave, leading to a very distructive cycle. It seems that as long as those "forward-thinking or is it self-centred, self-opinionated thinking?" Managers are organising our NHS service, we will all
suffer (patient and staff alike), significantly, and continue therefore possibly  aim our sights outside our previously great NHS service, in order to show our unacceptance of this uncomfortable, insufficient, inadequate, unsupporting system" - Chana Radnor, Manchester

"It's disgusting the way this government is trying to dismantle the NHS, so that it can be sold off to their rich friends who hope to milk the tax payer for profit. Nurses are being used to fob patients off and paper over the cracks by being expected to treat more and more patients in shorter times. Yet it is us who are directly in the firing line if anything goes wrong. Wards are expected to function with so few nurses - trained and untrained - that it is only their dedication and nothing short
of a miracle that more people do not suffer. In primary care nurses are increasingly being expected to do more to alleviate doctors; who have been pressured into taking far more people onto their lists than they can adequately cope with. This in turn forces many nurses to challenge the boundaries in which they feel they can work safely. No wonder so many nurses are now suffering from stress, and their families are suffering. To add to all this, they are seeing their jobs threatened and their pay
falling in real terms; and their pensions diminishing. There are jobs out there that are far less demanding for the same pay.  I don't blame any nurse for wanting to leave the NHS" - Name and address supplied