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Practice nurses happiest with working hours amid overall drop in satisfaction

Practice nurses are happiest with the amount of time they spend working compared to those in other sectors, although overall satisfaction with working hours has fallen across the workforce over the last decade, according to a survey published today.  

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) surveyed 8,307 of its members, including 570 who work in general practice, and found that six in ten (61%) practice nurses are content with their working hours, compared to 51% on average across nursing employers. 

Meanwhile, nursing students were the least happy with the amount of time they spent working at 48%, followed by nurses working for independent sector hospitals (49%), NHS trusts and boards (49%) and hospices (53%). 

The figures stand against a backdrop of decreasing satisfaction with working hours over the last decade across the nursing workforce, falling from 71% in 2009 to 51% in 2019, along with work-life balance, dropping from 62% in 2009 to 39% a decade later.

In the latest report, practice nurses were also the least likely to say they spent too much time on non-nursing duties at 29% while nurses working for independent sector care homes were the most likely at 61% - compared to an average of 54%.

The survey also revealed that more than half of nurses struggle to provide the level of care they would like despite most regularly working overtime.   

‘For many nurses, the picture is poor,’ commented Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN chief executive and general secretary, on the report, adding that there are ‘serious consequences for both patients and nurses’ of the 43,000 nursing vacancies in the NHS in England alone.  

She repeated calls for politicians to introduce ‘proper financial help for nursing students in every nation in of the UK’ and safe staffing laws ‘to ensure there are enough nurses to provide safe care to patients’. 

The survey is the latest in a long-running series undertaken with RCN members including registered nurses and health care support workers. 

It comes half of district nurses said they would leave the profession in the next six years amid ongoing issues over recruitment and retention.