Nursing bottlenecks “endanger patient care” as staff leave the profession

Around 83% of nurses surveyed by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said their last shift was under-staffed to meet patients’ needs

About 83% of nurses surveyed said their last shift was under-staffed to meet patient needs
About 83% of nurses surveyed said their last shift was under-staffed to meet patient needs

A growing shortage of nurses is putting patients’ safety at risk, the head of the Royal College of Nursing warns today.

“Tired”, “exhausted” and “demoralized” the employees are leaving the job in droves, the boss will say in a big speech.

According to a study of 20,325 responses from nurses and midwives, about 83% of nurses surveyed said their last shift was not staffed enough to meet patient needs.

Two years ago it was 73%.

The results of the college’s Last Shift Worked study show that just a quarter of shifts had the projected number of registered nurses – a sharp drop from 42% in 2020 and 45% five years ago, a report to the RCN annual congress warns .

About 59% of respondents were upset or sad that they were unable to provide the level of care they wanted – up from 53% in 2017 and 54% in 2020.

Nurses are leaving the profession in droves


(Getty Images)

About 51% admitted to feeling demoralized on their last shift — an increase from 43% in 2020 and 45% in 2017.

Chief Executive Pat Cullen will tell delegates in Glasgow: “Our new report reveals the state of health and care services across the UK.

“It shows the bottlenecks that force you to go even more than the extra mile and that you are forced to refrain from patient care when the bottlenecks are at their greatest.

“Never think that not having enough staff to attend to patients’ needs is normal; it is not.

“Today, members are letting the whole truth be known—nursing is saying loud and clear that enough is enough.

“If ever there was a time to break this cycle, it’s now.”

Southampton University research cited by the RCN shows that the risk of death increases by 3% for every day a patient experiences a shortage of registered nurse staff.

More and more nurses are leaving the profession


(Getty Images)

But the latest figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council show that 25,000 registered nurses left the register in the last year alone – a 13% increase from the previous year.

It is the first time that the number of people leaving the profession has increased after four years of fewer people leaving the profession.

The RCN wants UK governments to “assume statutory responsibility for the planning and delivery of caregivers and promptly publish independently verifiable assessments of population needs to provide direct information on investment in the health and care workforce”.

Ms Cullen will say: “Last year 25,000 registered nurses left – a sharp increase on last year, at the moment we cannot afford to lose a single person.

“The pressure is too great and the reward too small.

“Caregivers are being pushed out by the current way of working – the understaffing and all too often the bad culture.

“To those in government who will listen to my words – we have had enough, the patients and those we care for have had enough.

“We are tired, fed, demoralized and some of us are leaving the profession because we have lost hope.

“Do something about it – we’re not going away.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “There are a record number of doctors, nurses and health workers working in the NHS as a result of the measures taken by this Government.

“We are halfway through our commitment to hire 50,000 additional carers by 2024 and have commissioned NHS England to develop a long-term workforce strategy to provide certainty for the future.

“We are grateful to all healthcare workers for their tireless work across the NHS and are taking action to tackle the Covid backlog with record investments, surgical centers and up to 160 Community Diagnostic Centers – 88 of which are already open and have delivered an additional 800,000 scanning.”

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