Kings Fund warns on nurses morale

13 Jul 00
The NHS nursing recruitment crisis could get much worse if the government does not improve nurses' working lives, the King's Fund said this week.

14 July 2000

In a report, The last straw, the influential policy think-tank said that politicians have for too long relied on nurses' loyalty to shore up the NHS but that this commitment is fast waning under the pressure of working in the health service.

Bleak working conditions, low pay, inflexible hours and job insecurity caused by endless reforms of the service's structure all contribute to nurses' low morale, the Fund said. In addition, many nurses, particularly those from the ethnic minority communities, suffer discrimination and harassment.

King's Fund chief executive Rabbi Julia Neuberger warned that managers must address these issues if the forthcoming National Plan for the English NHS was to be a success.

'For the NHS to have a secure future, it is vital that nursing becomes an attractive career option to young people,' she said. 'Women in particular now have many more career options than before, and they have higher expectations of what they would like to achieve in their working lives. The NHS will have to change the way it recruits, supports and rewards nurses if it is to meet the nation's future health needs and enact the forthcoming National Plan.'

Christine Hancock, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, welcomed the report. 'The government's vision of a modernised NHS cannot be realised without tackling the chronic shortage of nurses across the UK,' she said.

'We know what is working and what motivates nurses. The challenge to the government and employers is to make it a reality.'


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