Nurses face pressure to work extra hours unpaid

MORE than half of Scotland’s nurses are having to work extra hours because of staff shortages, according to a new survey.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) discovered 54 per cent of nurses are working more than their contracted hours and 58 per cent say they are under too much pressure.

The survey of 1,681 nurses paints a picture of dedicated professionals who are “running faster and faster to deliver health services that are struggling to meet demand, because they do not have the resources and support” they need.

It also found 56 per cent of respondents are either the sole or main breadwinner in their family, and 86 per cent said their household expenditure has gone up.

Another 83 per cent reported they would not feel able to carry on working until the new proposed retirement age of 68 by 2046. But, despite the gloom, 70 per cent believed they were in a rewarding career.

Between 2009 and the end of last year, around 2,000 nursing and midwifery posts were cut across the Scottish NHS.

Norman Provan, of RCN Scotland, said: “Not only are nurses in Scotland under increasing pressure at work, they are feeling the strain at home too, as more than half of nurses are the sole or main breadwinner at a time when the cost of living is increasing and NHS pay is frozen.

“While, for the rest of us, Christmas is the season of goodwill, nurses are expected to provide goodwill all year round, with many now working extra hours for free just to keep services going.

“It is apparent that health services are only managing to meet demand because of nurses willing to go the extra mile, for free. While there have been some welcome increases in nursing staff numbers in recent months, this comes on the back of years of cuts coupled with ever-increasing demand for services. There is no doubt among our members that many areas are seriously understaffed, which means that more nurses need to be recruited urgently or new ways found to deliver services.”

Labour health spokesman Neil Findlay, said the survey was a “damning indictment” of the SNP’s nursing staff cuts.

He added: “We cannot have a health service run on the goodwill of nurses who are already stretched beyond capacity, it’s not fair on them and it’s not fair on patients.”

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume said: “The SNP has left holes in the NHS workforce and this is clearly taking its toll on our hard-working nurses.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “While clinical staff, including nurses, may be asked to work additional hours, nobody in the NHS should be working for nothing.

“The Cabinet Secretary has asked all boards for their assurance that all staff are receiving the full reimbursement that they are due.”

Source: Scottish Express
Published: 04 Dec 2013

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