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NHS can't cope, nurses tell congress

10,000-strong RCN poll reveals nurses fears that financial pressures are crippling the health service

Nine out of ten nurses believe the NHS can't cope with mounting financial pressures and rising patient demand, a new survey has revealed.

Results of a 10,000-strong poll of nurses published today – the first day of the RCN congress - also found a third believes the health service is in need of ‘serious improvement’.

One nurse warned the NHS ‘cannot continue’ to function in its current state, and that ‘reactive management is tearing it apart’.

Failing service

Another said: ‘We are constantly being told to reduce cost, and our services are constantly being squeezed. How much more can we take away from an already failing service?’ 

The survey also revealed that:

  • 84% of nurses have felt the impact of the rise in the number of older patients.
  • 75% said that NHS finances have worsened over the course of their career.
  • 62% reported an ‘increasing struggle’ for hospital beds due to heightened demand.
  • 30% identified staff shortages as the biggest problem facing the profession’s future.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘It is a tribute to the quality of health care that people in the UK are living longer, but services need to adapt to meet this heightened demand and at the moment they simply haven’t got the resources to do so.

‘The NHS’ financial pressures are very real and cannot be ignored. A concerted effort to put nursing at the heart of new models of care, as well as providing adequate social care, will go a long way towards helping it to meet demand.’

Safe staffing

The survey highlights issues to be debated at this year’s congress in Glasgow, where an estimated 4,000 nurses are expected to attend between June 18 and 22.

Among the agenda items to be discussed are safe staffing, agency nurses, seven-day care and dementia.

How nursing is affected by the European Union is also on the agenda ahead of the referendum, which takes place the day after congress ends.

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