NHS nurses are facing high levels of burnout and many are thinking of quitting the service all together amid a decline in staff morale, an NHS staff survey has found.
Strikingly, one in three of all NHS staff told the staff survey they ‘often think about leaving this organisation’.
NHS nurses showed the steepest increase in dissatisfaction among the professionals who said that they would ‘probably look for a job at a new organisation in the next 12 months’. In 2020, 15% of nurses told the survey that they would be looking for a new job, and this figure rose to 21.5% in 2022.
Likewise, nurses were also the professional group least satisfied with pay. Only 13% of nurses and healthcare assistants said that they were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their level of pay, a decrease from a peak of 24.5% in 2019.
The survey took responses from 636,248 staff in the NHS, the largest group of which were registered nurses and midwives and who made up over a quarter of all responses to the staff survey.
More than one-third (34%) of all the staff who responded said that they felt burned out due to work, while a further 45% said they had felt unwell due to work-related stress this year.
Over half (57%) of all staff however reported having had come into work despite being ill in the last three months.
Patricia Marquis, RCN director for England, commented: ‘Nursing staff are the bedrock of the NHS, and the largest profession within the service. Chronic staff shortages create stress and suffering for everyone in health care – day after day, week after week – it is patients who ultimately feel the impact of these compounding pressures.
‘These findings lay bare not only the intensifying staffing crisis in our NHS, but the devastation that is waiting in the wings if action is not taken quickly.’
Staff shortages and increased demand have both coincided with a significant decline in the confidence of staff in the quality of care that the NHS can provide.
The survey found that less than two-thirds (62.9%) of staff would be willing to recommend the NHS as a place to be cared for, down from 67.8% the year before. Likewise, only 57% of staff would now be willing to recommend the NHS as a place to work.
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said that the results of the study were ‘no surprise’ given the last few months of industrial action in the NHS.
Mr Mortimer added: ‘NHS leaders are urgently calling for the government to invest in a long promised and much overdue workforce plan and to detail how they will fill these gaps.
‘Until staff know help is coming, their overall satisfaction with the NHS will not improve.’