13 February 2004
Health service employers have been urged to review shift rotation patterns to prevent an exodus of nurses from the NHS.
This week the Royal College of Nursing said that nurses whose working hours were rotated between early, late and night shifts were more likely to want to leave the NHS.
In its annual survey of nurses' opinions, the RCN found that 11% planned to leave nursing in the next two years. But this rose to 39% in hospitals where nurses' shifts rotated.
RCN general secretary Beverly Malone said: 'For some nurses it can be damaging not only to their physical and mental wellbeing, but also to their relationships with families and friends.'
The Department of Health said it was committed to giving nurses more flexible working hours.
The survey also found that while 80% of nurses still worked for the NHS five years after entry, 38% remained after 20 years.
Although 55,000 nurses have been recruited since 1997, the RCN said a further 25,000 were needed.