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Worsened staffing levels, increased stress and growing concerns for the wellbeing of colleagues are just some of the issues reported by nurses working during the pandemic, a new survey has found.
The latest Royal College of Nursing survey has explored the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nursing workforce between 20 May and 17 June.
“The last year is something none of us could have predicted and has shown nursing in a light never seen before”
The received almost 42,000 responses and highlighted that nursing staff continued to go above and beyond, while working under the pressures of staff shortages, longer hours and often working above their pay grade.
Findings from the research – called the Building a Better Future for Nursing Survey – revealed that 76% of respondents felt an increase in their own stress levels during the coronavirus outbreak.
In addition, 52% “strongly agreed” and 39% “agreed”, that they were concerned about the wellbeing of those in the nursing profession generally.
Meanwhile, 38% said staffing levels had worsened during the pandemic, while a third reported putting in longer hours.
In addition, 34% of respondents said they were working at a higher level of responsibility, with 90% of those saying they had not been paid extra for this.
Overall, 73% said that improved pay would make nursing staff feel more valued, whilst 50% cited better staffing levels.
Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: “The last year is something none of us could have predicted and has shown nursing in a light never seen before.
“Whether in hospitals, care homes or in the community, across the entire health and care nursing workforce have stepped up to care for their patients and support their colleagues.”
She reiterated the RCN’s calls on the government for a significant and early pay rise for nurses.
“The pandemic it not over, but unless there is improved pay, we risk many of our members leaving the profession – at a time when the nation needs them more than ever,” added Dame Donna.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are incredibly grateful for the hard work and dedication of all our health and care staff during this global pandemic, and we will continue to ensure all staff are rewarded fairly.
“We are committed to supporting our NHS and everyone working in it, and the recently published NHS People Plan sets out how the NHS will improve physical and mental support for all staff,” they said.
“The Agenda for Change deal is delivering year-on-year pay increases for our valued NHS staff, including increasing the starting salary for a newly qualified nurse by over 12%.”