The Nursing and Midwifery Work and Wellbeing Survey published today by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, at their Annual Delegate Conference, reveals that 94% of nurses and midwives consider that work is negatively impacting their psychological wellbeing, while 89% of respondents said they were at least somewhat burnt out because of work.
When asked about the effects of staffing on patient safety, almost 85% of nurses and midwives said staffing levels could not meet work demands, with two thirds of those saying that patient safety was often or always put at risk as a result.
Commenting on the survey, INMO President Karen McGowan said:
“These results are very stark and unfortunately they don’t seem to be getting better. There has been no opportunity for nurses and midwives to regain a stable footing since 2019, as it’s just been crisis after crisis in the health service since then.
“A pandemic that was bookended by absolutely staggering levels of overcrowding means there’s been no recovery time at all. This type of sustained stress over years and years has an absolutely crushing and traumatic effect on people, and these are the same people who are being asked to step up again and again to fill in the gaps. It’s just not sustainable.
“As a society we’ve become more aware of the importance of protecting people’s mental health at work, except it seems when it comes to people who work in healthcare. Our members are just not being protected from the long term physical and psychological effects of stress, and it’s simply irresponsible.”
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha added:
“The stress and burnout reported here is devastating for individuals, but it also has a knock-on effect for the whole health service.
“Almost 3 out of 4 of the nurses and midwives who responded to this survey have considered leaving their current work area. That means the fate of the entire health service is dependent on those people deciding to stick it out for another month or another year, whatever they feel they can do.
“In the meantime, the staffing shortages are having a direct impact on patients. The vast majority of nurses and midwives - 85% - are saying that staffing levels in their workplace cannot meet work demands, with a significant impact on patient safety. At that rate you have to consider that unsafe staffing has become the norm and that hospitals are not safe for patients on any day of the year.
“Staffing is the biggest issue currently facing the health service, and this is the time to deal with it. The failure to legislate on safe staffing is putting nurses and their patients at very serious risk, and action needs to be taken to address this once and for all. “
Notes to Editors:
Three years on from the COVID-19 pandemic, Irish nurses and midwives face significant challenges in their working lives. Staffing shortages, increased health service demand, reforms and capacity constraints are impacting the working environments, conditions and welfare of nurses and midwives across the country.
The INMO’s annual survey provides a snapshot of the daily realities for the professions. It reveals respondents’ concerns for patient/client safety as nurses and midwives work in pressurised environments with high levels of staff shortages. This situation impacts the working conditions, welfare, health and safety of midwives and nurses, and these can be seen with an increasing rate of intention to leave the professions.
The survey was launched in January and closed in March 2023, running for two months. The number of responses received was 2,018.
• 84.79% of respondents stated current staffing levels and skill mix did not meet the required clinical and patient demand in their work area.
• 65.84% stated they felt that patient safety was put at risk very often or always.
• 86% stated they had raised concerns about staff staffing with their manager or organisation. However, 29.38% indicated that their concerns had been recorded as part of their organisation’s risk or another similar process, and 44.22% answered that they were unsure if they had been recorded.
Experience in the workplace
• 65.41% of respondents stated that they felt under pressure from their workplace to work additional hours/shifts.
Intention to leave
• 73.80% of respondents stated that they had considered leaving their work area over the last month.
• Of those that answered yes, 30.10% stated this was mainly due to workplace stress. A further 24.46% indicated feeling exhausted, and 14.46% felt undervalued.
• 67.39% of respondents stated that they always or very often feel physically exhausted.
• 94% stated that their work was negatively impacting their psychological wellbeing.
• Similarly, over half of the respondents (53.19%) reported that their work impacted their physical health.
• 65.41% of respondents stated they had worked when they should have taken annual leave over the last 12 months.
• 63.96% of respondents stated that they had experienced aggressive behaviour in the workplace.
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