Nurses’ trademark resilience can only last so long
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation’s fifth biennial employment survey of its nurse membership reveals a steady decline of overall morale with specific concern about safe staffing levels, workload and pay. In addition there is an increasing loss of confidence in health sector leadership. ‘NZNO Employment Survey 2017 Our Nursing Workforce: Resilience in Adversity’.
NZNO Chief Executive Memo Musa reports that there is a sense of urgency amongst nurse membership to have a clear pathway nationally to address the significant and emerging themes from the 2017 employment survey:
“While the survey reveals that nurses show resilience and commitment to their profession in the face of continuing restructuring and resource constraints, there is a tipping point where nurses will just walk away from the profession,” Memo Musa said.
“Workload, increasing patient acuity, stress and lack of job satisfaction are contributing to staff turnover and to lower morale, and must be better managed.
“Over a third surveyed experienced significant restructuring in the past two years. This is disconcerting, disruptive and stressful. Some restructures were leading to loss of clinical nursing leadership in the health workforce.
“To attract and retain nurses, good pay, flexible work options, professional development and study leave must be ensured. In addition, nurse leaders must be involved in decision making about resource allocation so they can give priority to safe staffing levels.
“Access to flexible working options, especially for nurses over 50 and those with care giving responsibilities, including adjusting the requirement to do night shifts, must be addressed to ensure workforce supply and continuity.
“A perception of poor pay relative to other professions such as for teachers and the police, remains a source of dissatisfaction for many. Without fair remuneration recruitment and retention of existing nurses, and nursing as a career choice, will lose appeal.
“All these issues are a symptom of an underfunded health system that is under pressure. If these issues identified by the last five surveys continue to be inadequately addressed they have the potential to impact negatively on health service delivery and health outcomes for all New Zealanders,” Memo Musa said.
Mr Musa calls on DHB management to prioritise utilising the Trendcare tool to track patient needs and nurse requirements, with the aim of better monitoring of nurse workload and patient safety.
“Evidently the Care Capacity and Demand Management programme is not gaining the traction, or resulting actions, it should be in DHBs and this means safe staffing improvements and progress is stalling.”