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Nurses among ‘least likely’ to recommend working in NHS

Nurses among ‘least likely’ to recommend working in NHS

Only around one in four nurses would recommend working in the NHS, a new report has suggested.

Research from the University of Bath also found increased staffing and pay were among the main priorities for NHS nurses seeking changes and retention improvements.

The new report – ‘Should I Stay or Should I go? Monitoring influences on NHS staff retention in the post-Covid-19 World’ – is the fourth in a series of studies analysing NHS workforce retention levels since November 2020.

The data used within the latest report is based on a combination of YouGov polling and staff interviews, with a total response of more than 1,600 staff, including 393 nurses.

Published this week, it revealed that only 26% of nurses and a fifth of doctors (19%) would recommend working for the NHS.

Across all staff groups, there was a 24% drop from winter 2020/21 (61%) to spring 2023 (37%) in the proportion of those who would recommend working for the NHS.

Increased staffing levels was the main priority for enhancing staff retention for almost 75% of nurses in the report, with another 65% of citing pay as crucial.

Of all staff surveyed, nurses were the most likely to urge for ‘reduced workload’ and ‘greater recognition by the government’, the report said.

One anonymous community mental health nurse cited within the report said: ‘The NHS is a really hard place to work. I would not recommend anyone I liked to join it.

‘I worry about the future of the NHS and of nursing.’

The report also quoted a critical care nurse who said: ‘I would not recommend working in healthcare to anyone and actively tell my daughter it is the worst career to go into.

‘The pay does not reflect the amount of education you undertake, and the ever-increasing workload asked for by the profession.’

Responding to the findings Patricia Marquis, director of Royal College of Nursing (RCN) England, said: ‘This report tells the story of an NHS workforce at the end of its tether.

‘Devastating nursing shortages are leaving staff burnt out and demoralised, unable to provide the level of care they want to.’

She added: ‘When nurses are [among] the least likely of all NHS staff to recommend a career in the health service, ministers should sit up and listen.’

Lead researcher Dr Andrew Weyman, reader in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, said: ‘Rising reports of shortages of resources, psychological stress, symptoms of burnout, coupled with low confidence of improvement to working condition – in the context of dissatisfaction with pay and evidence of weakening staff commitment to the NHS – are particularly perturbing and potentially offer an explanation for the significant fall in the proportion of staff who would recommend working for the NHS to others.’


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