Nurses 'pushed to breaking point', says RCN survey

NHS hospital
Image caption The survey suggests many nurses face a backdrop of poor career prospects and financial worries

Almost half of nurses in Wales have considered leaving their job in the last year, a union has claimed.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said its members were being pushed to breaking point by low staffing levels and extremely high workloads.

Its annual survey showed 64% of members felt under more stress and one in three were looking for a new job.

The Welsh Government said it would listen to concerns but pointed to an increase in the number of nurses.

The survey suggests many nurses face a backdrop of poor career prospects, financial worries, and bullying and harassment.

RCN Wales director Tina Donnelly said: "Safety and wellbeing of the patient is paramount and a decline in registered nurses and healthcare support workers in the workplace has a direct impact on patient safety.

"I am worried by the figures that show 64% of nurses in Wales feel more under stress and nearly half have considered leaving their job.

"It is not acceptable that nurses are being pushed to breaking point due to low staffing levels and extremely high workloads."

More than half of nurses reported concerns about their financial situation as rising costs affected household spending over the last year.

Patient safety

Another area of concern for RCN members in Wales is workload and staffing.

Almost half said they had seen the number of registered nurses in their workplace decline, while over a quarter reported a decline in the number of health care assistants or support workers.

The RCN said this had a direct impact on patient safety.

The Welsh Government said as a result of the UK Government's pay freeze, rising fuel costs and inflation at 5%, public sector workers were facing a tough time.

"Nurses have a crucial role in caring for patients as part of the wider clinical team and it is important that we listen carefully to all staff concerns," said a spokesperson.

"There are more nurses working in the NHS in Wales and more in training. We have set clear career paths for nurses, including advanced nurse practitioners and hospital ward sisters, and are improving training for healthcare support workers to ease pressure on nurses.

"NHS organisations have invested in programmes to support wellbeing of the workforce including responding proactively to violence and aggression, including verbal assaults by patients and families.

"It is for NHS organisations to ensure that they have the appropriate skill mix of staff to meet fluctuating demand."

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