Survey reveals poor conditions for nurses

Half
of all nurses in the NHS have no access to flexible working conditions and a
significant proportion are suffering from poor psychological and physical
health.

A
survey of 6,000 nurses by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) found that 50 per
cent of staff had no access to arrangements such as childcare, self-rostering,
flexible working or dependants’ leave.

In
response, the RCN has launched a series of recommendations calling for more
employee-friendly services, greater consultation with staff and a safer working
environment.

The
poll found that the majority of nurses were offered only the very basic
elements of work-life balance, despite two-thirds having children or dependants
to care for. It also revealed that 25 per cent of nurses don’t even have a staff
room or an area to take breaks.

More
worryingly, 11 per cent of respondents displayed signs of poor psychological
health with symptoms including depression and anxiety leading to increased
sickness absence.

The
RCN claims that this type of illness is directly linked to poor workplace
practices such as bullying and harassment. Thirty per cent of nurses on
long-term sick leave said they experienced bullying, while only 53 per cent
were receiving counselling for psychological problems.

Tracy
Myhill, president of the Association of Healthcare Human Resource Management,
claimed that changes had been made since the survey was started in 2000.

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

"There’s
top level commitment to improving these things but the blockage to this is
often at middle management level. HR needs to help line managers to implement
changes and there’s been an emphasis on a policy framework to help achieve
this."

www.rcn.org.uk

By Ross Wigham

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