More than half the nurses in Scotland considered quitting their jobs at least once in the last year, according to a new survey.
Unison said three out of four nurses and nursing assistants are feeling “tired or exhausted” having worked on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Revealing the findings of a study to mark International Nurses Day, the union said 56% of staff had considered leaving their job in the last year.
Just under one third claimed they thought about the prospect “very often”.
The trade union says the results should be taken as a “wake-up call” for the Scottish Government to invest more in the “overworked and undervalued” NHS workforce.
Unison’s survey polled more than 500 nurses and nursing assistants from across Scotland.
It showed that 83% of participants said they were “proud” to be part of a nursing team – but only 34% would recommend it as a career option to their friends and family.
Almost two thirds of respondents said morale in their team is currently poor or very poor.
Working during the pandemic has prompted more than 30% of nurses to bring forward their retirement plans and leave their jobs within the next five years.
Additionally, 5% are on course to retire by the end of 2021.
The Unison study also showed that 90% feel their skills are not valued by the Scottish Government, and the most commonly-requested improvements include more staff and a better work-life balance.
‘Overworked and undervalued’
Margo Cranmer, chairwoman of Unison’s nursing sector committee, said: “This shocking survey makes grim reading, especially on International Nurses Day – a day we should be celebrating the nursing teams across the world.
“Scotland’s nursing team is stressed and exhausted. Substantial investment in extra staff and changes to their working lives are essential.
“The nursing team, along with the rest of NHS staff, need to support to recover from the impact of the pandemic and deal with the backlog of patients that have built up while resources moved to Covid.
“This should be a stark wake-up call for the Scottish Government to take swift and effective action to improve the working lives of those who work in Scotland’s NHS.”
Willie Duffy, the union’s head of health, said: “These findings show that the NHS workforce is overworked and undervalued.
“It is a sad indictment that three in four nurses are exhausted and more than half are considering leaving the NHS.
“Maintaining current nursing workforce numbers is not enough, the NHS also needs a bigger nursing team.
“There were staff shortages before Covid and the backlog created by the focus on Covid adds urgency to the problem.
“Improving working lives is essential to retaining the current workforce but also in recruiting new people into the service.
“This will require substantially better funding and investment in both getting the right numbers of staff and the right skills mix across the NHS.
“NHS workers don’t want any more warm words – they want action.”
The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.