Nurses: The forgotten workforce

September 2, 2013
Australian nurses are frustrated by heavy workloads and lack of respect by senior management. Credit: iStock

A new national survey of nurses' attitudes highlights a profession that sees itself as overlooked by management and constantly suffocated by too much red tape.

With the federal election only days away and neither of the major parties announcing any major changes in , increasing numbers of from all sectors of the profession are frustrated by heavy workloads and lack of respect by senior management.

The survey by Monash University researchers Dr Belinda Allen, Associate Professor Peter Holland, and Dr Brian Cooper from the Department of Management, follows on from a previous survey conducted in 2011.

"In the two years since our first survey, it appears working conditions have not improved, and in fact, getting worse," Dr Allen said.

"More nurses than ever are contemplating leaving the profession due to heavy and a lack of recognition and respect within their organisation. In 2011, 15 per cent indicated they would leave within the next twelve months; that has increased to 23 per cent.

"Workload issues have continued to increase, with the key reason indicated being inadequate nurse-to-patient ratios. This concern is widespread across the profession - it is not just limited to staff in hospitals but also in mental health and aged care."

Another major concern highlighted was the nurses' low levels of trust in senior management with close to half the respondents indicating that they did not feel confident that senior management would treat them fairly or could be trusted to make sensible decision in relation to their organisation's future.

"Many indicated senior management showed poor recognition and respect for nursing work, highlighted by the number of nurses being reduced first when were required, thereby increasing the workload on the remaining staff," Dr Allen said.

In contrast, there were higher overall levels of trust in line management, with nearly 50 per cent of respondents expressing confidence their line manager treated them fairly and understood their concerns.

Even with these figures, the survey found the two major reasons why respondents continued to work in nursing or midwifery was the belief it was important patients were properly cared for (91 per cent), and they liked the close personal connections they could develop with patients (68 per cent).

"Unless steps are taken by all levels of government to improve the working conditions, problems in relations to recruitment and retention of nurses will only worsen, thereby putting patient safety and care at risk," Dr Allen said.

Explore further: Nurses' job satisfaction well below average

Related Stories

Nurses' job satisfaction well below average

March 5, 2012
At a time of growing tensions in the nursing industry, a national survey has shown that poor job satisfaction and a lack of trust in management are widespread in the workforce.

Most ward nurses say time pressures force them to 'ration' care

July 29, 2013
Most ward nurses say they are forced to ration care, and not do or complete certain aspects of it—including adequate monitoring of patients—because they don't have enough time, indicates research published online in BMJ ...

Nurses struggle with moral distress - survey

August 14, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Almost 50 per cent of nurses surveyed in a New Zealand-first study have considered quitting after struggling with moral issues beyond their control.

Shift length affects nurse well-being, patient satisfaction

December 7, 2012
(HealthDay)—For nurses, working extended hours is associated with increased job dissatisfaction and burnout, and with patient dissatisfaction, according to a study published in the November issue of Health Affairs.

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.