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Scotland: Six in 10 nursing staff considering quitting

Scotland: Six in 10 nursing staff considering quitting

Six in 10 nursing staff in Scotland are either considering or actively planning on quitting their job, a survey from RCN Scotland published today has found.

The poll of 1,293 RCN members in the country found 61% are thinking about leaving their current post. Of these, 41% are considering leaving and 20% are actively planning to leave.

It found that the key reasons for thinking of leaving include feeling undervalued, feeling under too much pressure, feeling exhausted and low staffing levels (see box). But as the survey took place in October before Omicron hit, the RCN warned ‘current pressures are almost certainly even worse’.

The poll also revealed that 37% of nursing staff are working beyond their contracted hours several times a week, while just 54% are paid for those hours. In addition, 67% say they are too busy to provide the level of care they would like, and 72% are under too much pressure at work.

The proportion of nursing staff wanting to leave has risen sharply since May 2020, when another RCN survey found 36% respondents were thinking about leaving that year.

Reasons given by respondents for thinking about leaving their post

Feeling undervalued – 75.4%
Too much pressure – 64.4%
Feeling exhausted – 63.9%
Staffing levels are too low – 64.7%
Levels of pay are too low – 53.8%
Can’t give level of care to standard I would like – 54.5%
Not enough managerial support – 49.4%
My own stress levels – 43.1%
Too much paperwork/bureaucracy – 37.4%
Looking for a new challenge – 18.9%
Retirement – 16.1%
Seeking promotion – 11.8%

‘Urgently improve nurse staffing levels’

Colin Poolman, RCN Scotland interim director, said the findings ‘must be a wake-up call the Scottish Government’, especially as they will add to the pressure of existing workforce shortages. He called on the Scottish Government to address staffing and pay ‘as a priority’.

This comes after the latest workforce statistics show there are a record 5,761 nursing and midwifery vacancies in NHS Scotland, and around 40% of care homes for adults report nurse vacancies.

Mr Poolman continued: ‘The Scottish Government must commit significant additional funding to provide and support a sustainable workforce as well as the implementation of safe staffing legislation. We simply cannot afford to expect nursing staff in health and care settings to carry on working understaffed and poorly paid.’

The data published today was gathered as part of the UK-wide 2021 RCN Employment survey, which found 57% of nursing staff are thinking about quitting or actively planning to quit.

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