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Nurses say they are working harder than ever, survey shows

More than 70% of nurses say they are ‘exhausted’ when they come home from work

More than 70% of nurses say they are ‘exhausted’ when they come home from work


Picture: John Behets

Nurse exhaustion and work intensity are on the rise in a ‘worst scenario for employee health’, according to new research.

The Skills and Employment Survey 2017 – a joint project between Cardiff University, University College London (UCL) and the University of Oxford – is the latest edition of a poll that has gathered the views of workers in England, Scotland and Wales every few years since the mid-1980s.

The 2017 survey collected data from 3,306 working adults aged 20-65. 

A report on the initial findings compared the survey results for 552 nurses from the years 1992, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2012 and 2017.

Negative results

‘What’s remarkable is the jump in negative responses from nurses over the past 25 years,’ said one of the researchers, UCL Institute of Education professor of education and labour economics Francis Green.

‘In the 1990s, 55% of nurses surveyed strongly agreed that their job required them to work very hard – but this figure has now risen to more than 70%.

‘In the 1992 and 1997 surveys, 25% of nurses said they came home from work exhausted, compared with 73% in 2012 and 2017.’

High-strain jobs

Professor Green added: ‘We looked at work intensity rather than working hours, and at how hard people think they are working.

‘The levels of intensity of work for nurses, and their exhaustion, appear to be rising.

‘We also know that the number of high-strain jobs across all professions is growing, when you have the combination of working very hard and little control over what you are doing.

‘This is the worst scenario for employee health.’

Earlier this year, a Nursing Standard and Sunday Mirror survey revealed 69% of nurses said they feel they don’t have the time to give patients safe care.


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