NHS leaders and the Government need to give greater support to newly qualified health staff, after a Unison survey found more than two-thirds of midwives and nurses feel under-prepared for their roles thanks to the pandemic.
The survey, led by the trade union and published yesterday (25 August), found that 70% of newly qualified midwives and nurses and students believe they have missed out on important learning experiences during Covid.
More than half (54%) of final year students also reported that they are worried they are not as prepared for qualification as they should be.
Many student midwives and nurses had their studies disrupted as a result of deployment to hospital wards and the addition of other responsibilities during the pandemic, the union said.
It added that the Government and NHS leaders ‘now need to give greater support to the newly qualified health staff as they grapple with difficult workloads in their first full-time roles’.
Nearly nine in 10 (89%) respondents had said it would be useful or essential for their employer to guarantee time to adjust to their new jobs where they are not considered part of the staff.
Three-fifths ‘consider leaving their jobs’
The survey also identified that three-fifths (60%) of respondents said the ‘pressures have already made them consider leaving their jobs’, while a similar proportion (62%) reported being ‘regularly anxious and stressed’ by their work.
Meanwhile, more than four in five (84%) would like study days that are protected and regular.
Similarly, more than three-quarters (76%) agreed that there should be more structure to the preceptorship programme, where more experienced staff provide guidance.
Unison said that these preceptorships should include ‘at least one month where they’re not included in normal staffing numbers’, a minimum of one day a month for learning, development and wellbeing, and for ‘clinical leaders to provide them with career support and development which takes place away from clinical duties’.
Stuart Tuckwood, Unison’s national officer for nursing, said: ‘Constructive and meaningful support in the workplace is vital for those newly qualified so they can fulfil their potential. Some may lack confidence because they’ve missed out on some training opportunities.
‘Health service leaders promised no student would be disadvantaged by their experiences during the pandemic. They must now support students who came to the rescue of the NHS when asked. This is to ensure they not only stay in their new roles but also thrive.’
A poll led by the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank earlier this year found that 29% of midwives and nurses were more likely to quit the NHS than they were before the pandemic, equating to as many as 333,000 staff including 100,000 nurses and 8,000 midwives.