Survey reveals depth of nursing crisis

Half
of all nurses have seriously considered leaving their jobs because of poor pay
and unfair grading, a new survey by Unison shows.

The
survey was commissioned as part of the union’s evidence to the Pay Review Body
for nursing staff, midwives and health visitors.

Two-thirds
of nurses who responded to the survey also reported frequent staff shortages
and a similar number say they would not recommend nursing as a career.

Many
felt that their health and relationships had suffered as a result of their
working conditions.

"The
Pay Review Body must act now to stop nurses simply slipping away,” said
Unison’s head of nursing, Pete Lowe.

“We
cannot afford to lose more trained nurses through poor pay and unrealistic
workloads.”

The
majority of nurses surveyed said they had experienced an increased workload,
but staff levels had not risen accordingly. Many trusts now rely on recruitment
from overseas to tackle staff shortages.

A
quarter of nurses have a second job to boost their pay and only one in five say
their trusts have implemented family-friendly policies.

"Many
nurses work for agencies because they can choose when they work and what hours
they work,” added Lowe.

“This
is not surprising when you consider that the vast majority of nurses are women
and 73 per cent say their working hours conflict with family commitments. A
more flexible approach would enable them to continue working for the NHS and in
addition would attract more women back into nursing."

As a
result of the survey, Unison is making a number of recommendations to the Pay
Review Body for 2003. These include a significant increase in pay across the
board, improvements of standby and on-call payments, a London weighting of
£4,000, and the consolidation of pay grades.

"Our
survey shows that long hours and increasing workloads are clearly taking their
toll on nurses, and sadly this will have a knock-on effect on patient care,”
Lowe said.

“We
cannot rely on overseas nurses to keep plugging the gaps, when there is a
world-wide shortage of trained staff."

By
Quentin Reade

 

 

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