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Over half of Scottish nurses feel like quitting over work pressures

Mounting pressures mean many nurses are working beyond their contracted hours, feel undervalued and are considering leaving their current role, RCN survey shows
Picture shows a female medic wearing a mask and looking perplexed

Mounting pressures mean many nurses are working beyond their contracted hours, feel undervalued and are considering leaving their current role, RCN survey shows

Six out of ten nurses in Scotland are thinking about quitting due to mounting pressure at work and feeling undervalued, a survey suggests.

Of the 1,293 RCN Scotland members who responded to the survey, some 61% said they are considering leaving their current role, with 20% actively planning their departure.

The findings are taken from the UK-wide 2021 RCN Employment Survey , which also found nurses were regularly working

Mounting pressures mean many nurses are working beyond their contracted hours, feel undervalued and are considering leaving their current role, RCN survey shows

Picture shows a female medic wearing a mask and looking perplexed
Picture: iStock

Six out of ten nurses in Scotland are thinking about quitting due to mounting pressure at work and feeling undervalued, a survey suggests.

Of the 1,293 RCN Scotland members who responded to the survey, some 61% said they are considering leaving their current role, with 20% actively planning their departure.

The findings are taken from the UK-wide 2021 RCN Employment Survey, which also found nurses were regularly working beyond their contracted hours and did not feel they could provide the level of care they wanted for their patients.

Scotland-wide data pulled from the report shows nearly 40% of survey respondents were working beyond their contracted hours on most shifts and some 72% said they were under too much pressure to work. A further 67% said they were too busy to provide the level of care they would like.

Survey was before Omicron so things may now be worse, says RCN

One hospital staff nurse from Scotland who took part in the survey said ‘morale is the lowest I have ever seen it’.

The nurse said: ‘I have mostly enjoyed my career and been proud of my work but now have been left feeling stressed, unappreciated and vulnerable and my confidence has taken a massive hit so I’ve made the decision to take early retirement.’

An advanced nurse practitioner at an NHS hospital in Scotland said: ‘It feels like we are sinking in quicksand, with no way out.’

The survey was carried out in October 2021 – before the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 virus – and RCN Scotland said the current situation is likely to be worse. The latest workforce statistics show there are just over 5,761 full-time equivalent nursing and midwifery vacancies across NHS Scotland.

Poor staffing levels and low pay must be addressed as a priority: RCN

RCN Scotland interim director Colin Poolman said the survey findings painted a worrying picture and should be a wake-up call. He said: ‘The Scottish government’s budget has to address both poor staffing levels and low pay as a priority.’

The RCN Scotland briefing was published as members of the Scottish parliament prepare to debate the Scottish government’s 2022-23 budget this week.

Nurses in Scotland have previously indicated they would consider taking strike action over a disputed 4% pay rise.

A Scottish government spokesperson said the government was investing in a range of measures to support safe staffing and workforce well-being. They said: 'Our nurses and NHS staff are already the best-paid in the UK. We are committed to ensuring NHS Scotland nursing staff continue to benefit from the best pay and conditions.'


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