High workloads will see more nurses quit

A new workforce survey reveals that an increased number of experienced nurses and midwives will leave the profession over the next 12 months due to high workloads caused by inadequate nurse to patient ratios.

The national survey of the attitudes of nurses and midwives, conducted for the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) by the Monash University Department of Management, found that:

  •  23% of nurses and midwives were likely to leave the profession in the next year (an 8 percent increase on last year);
  • 33% frequently thought about leaving;
  • 41% will explore other career opportunities.

ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said nurses and midwives who responded to the survey across the health, mental health and aged care sectors also expressed concern that poor staffing levels and skill mixes contributed to high levels of stress among staff and compromised safe patient care – with 23% working double shifts.

“The ANMF is extremely concerned there’s been an increase in the number of nurses and midwives who say they will walk away from the profession over the next 12 months,” Ms Thomas said today.

“Nurses and midwives are stressed and exhausted and are working under conditions which are putting safe patient care at risk. In one instance, two nurses on night duty caring for 23 mentally unstable patients.

“This a dire warning that unmanageable workloads due to critical funding shortages, no nationally mandated nurse to patient ratios, attacks on working conditions and the lack of professional recognition from some employers, is taking its toll on frontline nurses and midwives.

“The nurses and midwives who say they will quit are highly experienced Registered and Enrolled Nurses who, on average, have been working for more than 22 years. The country simply cannot afford to lose them without seeing an overall decline in the level of care provided to patients and residents.”

Ms Thomas said the crisis in Australia’s nursing and midwifery workforce was being exacerbated by the lack of employment opportunities for Australia’s graduate nurses and midwives, with hundreds across the country still without jobs.

“As a nation, we need we need viable solutions to ensure a future nursing and midwifery workforce to replace current nursing staff who are set to retire over the next 15 to 20 years. As a community we must listen to the voices of nurses and midwives as fhey tell us what they need to ensure a viable workforce now and in the future.”

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