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Flexible working: would better options help nurses recover from the pandemic?

Improving work-life balance could help boost well-being and even retain nurses, readers say

Improving work-life balance could help boost well-being and even retain nurses, readers say

Female nurses well-being has demonstrably worsened since summer 2020 , according to a report from the Health & Care Women Leaders Network , which calls for better flexible working options for women in healthcare.

Would more flexibility at work help nurses recover from the pandemic? Nursing Standard readers have their say.

Francis Fernando is a head of nursing at a London NHS trust and founding director of the Filipino Nurses Association UK @fernandof1974

Better flexible working options would help nurses recover from the pandemic.

Even before COVID-19, nursing staff were feeling overworked and overloaded,

...

Improving work-life balance could help boost well-being and even retain nurses, readers say

Female nurses’ well-being has ‘demonstrably worsened’ since summer 2020, according to a report from the Health & Care Women Leaders Network, which calls for better flexible working options for women in healthcare.

Would more flexibility at work help nurses recover from the pandemic? Nursing Standard readers have their say.


Francis Fernando is a head of nursing at a London NHS trust and founding director of the Filipino Nurses Association UK
@fernandof1974

Better flexible working options would help nurses recover from the pandemic.

Even before COVID-19, nursing staff were feeling overworked and overloaded, and were under intense pressure thanks to staff shortages and a lack of flexibility in working hours. Half of more than 8,000 nurses surveyed by the RCN in 2019 reported dissatisfaction with their work-life balance.

The pandemic has taught us that we can do things differently without compromising the quality of care. It would be great if employers continue with this policy to retain nurses, especially as we have tens of thousands of nurse vacancies in the UK.


Leanne Patrick is a gender-based violence nurse with NHS Fife and a founder of the RCN Feminist Network
@LeanneHPatrick

The NHS is staffed by people, and requires people-focused workforce strategies. Most of those people are women, who take on the majority of unpaid labour outside of the workplace.

Flexible working options are vital to facilitate career progression opportunities for women and should be the default, with an onus placed on employers to justify where and when this isn’t possible.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that flexible working is not only achievable, but has positively affected the well-being of many people, and boosted productivity.

The evidence in favour is increasingly compelling.


Liz Charalambous is a teaching associate at the University of Nottingham
@lizcharalambou

Many nurses, particularly those nearing retirement age, are considering leaving the profession.

In our traditionally female-dominated profession, the resilient ‘hero/angels’ label sets a dangerous precedent for nurses to passively accept archaic working arrangements.

Evidence suggests that women, particularly from ethnic minority backgrounds, are more likely to undertake shift work.

Government and senior leaders need to urgently address the issue of flexible working and adopt an inclusive and equitable approach by offering all staff flexible working options, which would reduce the burden of shift work on women.

The need for 24/7 cover means organisations could develop creative ways to support staff with flexible working arrangements. However, I fear this won’t be enough to stem the rising tide of nurses looking to leave the profession.


Grant Byrne is a fourth-year nursing student in Edinburgh
@GGByrne

Often when someone requests flexible working options, it is out of necessity rather than choice, usually to meet informal caring responsibilities such as childcare or supporting older loved ones.

Flexibility offers these people, the majority of whom are women, a route to stay in work while still being able to meet commitments at home.

Where flexible working proves impossible, often the only alternative is to find a new post.

In nursing, with an overwhelmingly female workforce, support for flexible working is crucial to retain experienced staff.


Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only

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