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More than a third of nurses are thinking of quitting – and low pay is the main reason

RCN survey finds an increasing number want to leave, with many feeling undervalued

RCN survey finds an increasing number want to leave, with many feeling undervalued by government

An increasing number of nurses are considering leaving the profession and poor pay is the top reason why, an RCN survey has found.

Of the 41,798 RCN members who responded to the Speaking Up: How UK Nursing Staff Expect to be Valued survey, 15,047 (36%) said they were thinking of leaving the profession.

In the same survey, nurses were asked if they had considered leaving the profession in 2019; 27% said yes.

Of the 15,047 nurses thinking of leaving the profession, 61% said it was due to pay.

Feeling valued by the public but not the government

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RCN survey finds an increasing number want to leave, with many feeling undervalued by government


Picture: iStock

An increasing number of nurses are considering leaving the profession and poor pay is the top reason why, an RCN survey has found.

Of the 41,798 RCN members who responded to the Speaking Up: How UK Nursing Staff Expect to be Valued survey, 15,047 (36%) said they were thinking of leaving the profession.

In the same survey, nurses were asked if they had considered leaving the profession in 2019; 27% said yes.

Of the 15,047 nurses thinking of leaving the profession, 61% said it was due to pay.

Feeling valued by the public – but not the government

There were also other factors motivating nurses to leave the profession, with 44% stating it was how they were treated during the COVID-19 pandemic, 43% saying it was due to low staffing levels, and 42% because of a lack of management support.

Almost three quarters of all respondents (73%) said improved pay would make them feel more valued.

While 74% of members said they now feel more valued by the public compared with directly before the pandemic, only 18% said they felt more valued by the government.

The survey, carried out across the UK between 20 May and 17 June 2020, was designed to gather nurses’ views on their experiences during COVID-19.

Invest in staff and pay to keep patients and workers healthy

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said existing tensions experienced by nurses had been exacerbated by the pandemic.

‘Earlier sticking plasters are no longer covering gaping holes,’ Professor Kinnair said.

She called on the government to act to improve staff retention and increase entry into the profession.

‘Investment in staffing and pay is about patient safety and the health of our workers,’ she said. ‘That is how to strengthen all NHS and care services to help keep patients safe.’

Earlier this month, the RCN and 13 other unions sent a letter to the prime minister and the chancellor urging them to open pay discussions early, with the aim of introducing a pay rise for nurses this year.

No commitment on pay from government

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said the government is grateful for the dedication NHS nursing staff have shown during the pandemic, but made no commitment on future pay arrangements.

‘The independent NHS Pay Review Body makes recommendations to government on pay increases and we will consider their advice when we receive it,’ the spokesperson said.

The DHSC did not respond to Nursing Standard’s questions regarding respondents’ views on how they were valued by the government.

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