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We’re beyond tired: nurses open up about why so many want to quit

Toll that punishing workload and unpaid hours are taking is revealed in nurses’ own words
Nurse sits with head in hand, looking drained

Low morale thanks to workload and staffing pressures is rubbing off on nursing students too

Nurses say exhaustion and unsafe working conditions is forcing them to consider leaving the profession.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise and staff absence places additional strain on services, nurses say they are not coping.

‘I just can’t cope anymore’

Writing on Nursing Standard’s Facebook page one nurse said: ‘I can’t cope with the wards anymore, it just isn’t safe. I’m going into an education role, I will miss the bedside but honestly can’t do it anymore.’

Another wrote: ‘We are beyond tired. I am working a 12-hour day and being paid for 7.5 of those hours.

Low morale thanks to workload and staffing pressures is rubbing off on nursing students too

Nurse sits with head in hand, looking drained
Picture: iStock

Nurses say exhaustion and unsafe working conditions is forcing them to consider leaving the profession.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise and staff absence places additional strain on services, nurses say they are not coping.

‘I just can’t cope anymore’

Writing on Nursing Standard’s Facebook page one nurse said: ‘I can’t cope with the wards anymore, it just isn’t safe. I’m going into an education role, I will miss the bedside but honestly can’t do it anymore.’

Another wrote: ‘We are beyond tired. I am working a 12-hour day and being paid for 7.5 of those hours. My one-hour lunch break, which is unpaid, is a sandwich eaten whilst driving between patients, and a cold coffee that was made at 7am in a travel mug.’

‘At 41, do I want to walk into a job burnt-out, or be burnt-out extremely quickly, before I even begin a registered career?’

Nursing student

A recent RCN employment survey found thousands of nurses are actively planning to leave their jobs due to exhaustion and feeling undervalued.

Of the 9,577 nurses, healthcare support workers and nursing associates who responded to the college’s survey, 57% said they were either thinking about leaving or actively planning to do so.

The survey found many nurses are routinely working unpaid overtime, delaying or not taking annual leave, and working when unwell.

Nursing students are sensing risk of burnout

The stark reality of being a nurse in the current NHS climate risks damaging nursing students’ morale too.

One wrote on Nursing Standard’s Facebook page: ‘The reason I wanted to go into nursing has never changed but now, at 41, do I want to walk into a job burnt-out, or be burnt-out extremely quickly, before I even begin a registered career?’

Another student added: ‘I’m concerned about how tough it’s going to be when I qualify. I’ve been worked to the point of sickness in the civil service and worked long hours in support work. I was under no illusion that nursing would be challenging, but was excited for a comparatively better wage and 37-hour week.’

The RCN called for funded staff retention initiatives.

Join the discussion – Nursing Standard on Facebook


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