News

NHS nurse well-being worries managers as they brace for winter

Nurses’ strikes, low morale and short-staffing are top of health service leaders’ long list of concerns as they prepare for a winter of discontent
Nurse looks tired and stressed as NHS managers say burnout is worrying them

Nurses’ strikes, low morale and short-staffing are top of health service leaders’ long list of concerns as they prepare for a winter of discontent

Most NHS trust leaders are concerned for staff well-being and morale as they prepare for a winter onslaught, a survey suggests.

A poll of 183 health leaders found 93% are worried about workforce burnout, while 80% are concerned about morale.

NHS Providers survey

An annual NHS Providers survey found severe staff shortages top the list of challenges facing services. There are 47,000 nursing vacancies and 132,000 other staff vacancies in the NHS in England, according to NHS Digital – the highest since current records began in 2018.

    Nurses’ strikes, low morale and short-staffing are top of health service leaders’ long list of concerns as they prepare for a winter of discontent

    Nurse looks tired and stressed as NHS managers say burnout is worrying them
    Picture: iStock

    Most NHS trust leaders are concerned for staff well-being and morale as they prepare for a winter onslaught, a survey suggests.

    A poll of 183 health leaders found 93% are worried about workforce burnout, while 80% are concerned about morale.

    NHS Providers survey

    An annual NHS Providers survey found severe staff shortages top the list of challenges facing services. There are 47,000 nursing vacancies and 132,000 other staff vacancies in the NHS in England, according to NHS Digital – the highest since current records began in 2018.

    Some 85% of trust senior managers said they are more worried this winter than last, with the prospect of nurses’ strikes adding to the pressure, the survey found. Leaders also cited industrial action, recruitment, retention and staff morale as the biggest risks to services.

    Nurses are preparing to strike over pay, fears for patient safety and what they say are unsustainable pressures leading to burnout and an exodus of staff.

    Nurse burnout and low morale

    Professor of healthcare and workforce modelling at London South Bank University Alison Leary said the strike vote reflected nurses’ frustration at not being able to provide good care, and this came through in the NHS Providers survey.

    ‘Burnout and staff morale appear to affect most parts of the workforce now,’ she said.

    Trust leaders are taking part in an exercise called Arctic Willow to stress-test the NHS as it braces for the impact of winter pressures and strikes coinciding.

    NHS leaders concerned about combined challenges

    NHS Providers chief executive Saffron Cordery said: ‘NHS leaders are telling us about demoralised staff and a rise in resignations and retirements. Below-inflation pay awards, increases in the cost of living and wider dissatisfaction mean the health service is on the cusp of a highly challenging winter with a number of workers contemplating industrial action alongside nurses.’

    Last year, the RCN biennial employment survey found thousands of nurses were planning to leave their jobs due to exhaustion and feeling undervalued, with many also routinely working unpaid overtime, delaying or skipping annual leave, and working when unwell. With current shortages, it’s likely that situation has deteriorated significantly.

    RCN chief executive Pat Cullen said: ‘These pressures cannot continue. Staff are doing everything they can to treat patients, but there are simply not enough nurses.’

    The Nursing and Midwifery Council recently revealed around 25,000 nurses left the profession in the past year, with more than a third saying the pandemic influenced their decision.


    In other news


    Sign up to continue reading for FREE

    OR

    Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

    Save over 50% on your first three months:

    • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
    • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Emergency Nurse
    • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
    • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
    • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

    This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

    Jobs