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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 12°C
# staffing crisis
More than seven in ten Irish nurses have considered quitting their jobs - INMO survey
Nurses mainly wanted to leave their workplace due to stress, while many also reported experiencing aggressive behaviour.

JUST OVER 70% of nurses and midwives in Ireland have considered leaving their area of work, mainly due to workplace stress, according to a stark new survey from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO). 

President of the union Karen McGowan said that the results reveal the “crushing and traumatic” effect that hospital overcrowding and the pandemic has had on nurses and midwives.

“These are the same people who are being asked to step up again and again to fill in the gaps. It is just not sustainable,” she added. 

The INMO, the largest union of nurses and midwives in Ireland, has published the survey results on the opening day of its annual conference, which is taking place in Killarney this week.

The conference is expected to hear discussions on workforce numbers, and the recruitment and retention of staff in Irish healthcare settings. 

The survey, completed by 2,018 nurses and midwives across the country, also found that 94% of respondents felt that their work is negatively impacting them psychologically, while 84% said they were experiencing burnout. 

65% of respondents also said that they felt under pressure from their employers to work extra hours and shifts. 

64% of the nurses and midwives surveyed said that they have experienced aggressive behaviour in their workplace. 

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald raised the survey in the Dáil today, saying that the health service is “on its knees”.

“Healthcare staff are at their wits end. They’ve been crying out for support and so many feel abandoned and let down by your Government’s failure to get to grips with the crisis in our healthcare system,” McDonald said.

These figures come as the INMO reported today that 712 patients admitted to hospitals this morning are waiting on a bed, with 25 children waiting on trolleys. 

Staffing levels and hospital overcrowding emerge as the chief reasons why the healthcare personnel surveyed are struggling. 

85% of the nurses and midwives surveyed said that staffing levels could not meet the demand in their workplace, while two-thirds said that patient safety is often or always put at risk as a result.

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that the stress and burnout rate experienced by members is devastating for workers, but also has a knock-on effect for the whole health service. 

She said it is especially worrying that almost three out of four of the nurses and midwives who responded to the survey said that they had considered leaving their current area of work. 

“That means the fate of the entire health service is dependent on those people deciding to stick it out for another month or another year, whatever they feel they can do,” Ní Sheaghdha said.

She further stated that the survey results indicate that “unsafe staffing has become the norm and that hospitals are not safe for patients on any day of the year”. 

“The failure to legislate on safe staffing is putting nurses and their patients at very serious risk, and action needs to be taken to address this once and for all, “ Ní Sheaghdha added. 

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