NHS is failing nurses on basic work-life balance

Half of NHS nurses have no access to family-friendly work schemes and a
significant proportion are suffering from poor psychological and physical
health, research claims.

A survey of 6,000 nurses by the Royal College of Nursing finds that many
staff have no access to arrangements such as childcare, self-rostering,
flexible work or dependant’s leave.

In response, the RCN has issued recommendations calling for more flexible work,
greater consultation with staff and a safer work environment.

The poll reveals that most nurses are offered only the very basic elements
of work-life balance, despite two-thirds having children or dependants.

It also claims that 25 per cent of nurses don’t even have a staff room or an
area to take breaks in.

More than 10 per cent of respondents display signs of poor psychological
health, with symptoms including depression, leading to increased absence.

The RCN claims that this type of illness is linked to bullying and
harassment. Nearly a third of nurses on long-term sick leave report that they
experienced bullying, while only 53 per cent received counselling for
psychological problems.

Tracy Myhill, president of the Association of Healthcare Human Resource
Management, believes the situation has improved significantly in the year since
the survey was carried out.

"In general terms I can’t disagree with the recommendations and I am
sure the picture would be very different today. Over the past few years there
has been huge emphasis on flexible work after pressure from the
Government," she said.

"There is top level commitment to improving these things. HR needs to
help line managers to implement change and there has been an emphasis on policy
framework to help achieve this."


By Ross Wigham

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