Nearly 90 per cent of Scottish nurses believe the NHS cannot cope with demand amid reports of rising workloads and staff shortages.
A major poll of nearly 1,000 nurses revealed that just 12 per cent believe the health service is able to meet soaring levels of demand, while nine out of ten respondents said their workload had become worse.
Over three quarters of nurses surveyed said NHS finances have got worse, according to figures unveiled at the start of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) annual congress in Glasgow today.
Nursing leaders said the figures laid bare the presures staff were under and urged health boards not to cut the workforce to balance the books.
One Scottish nurse said: “There are constant staff shortages, but still an expectation to do 100 per cent of the workload, which increases regularly. The stress in our profession is immense.”
More than 62 per cent of Scots nurses described struggling to find beds for patients as close to nine out of ten said they had felt the impact of the growing number of elderly patients requiring care. A third warned the NHS needed serious improvement.
RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said: “This survey clearly shows how much pressure nursing staff are experiencing on a daily basis because of rising demand, made worse by the financial position of many of our health boards.
“The RCN is concerned that, without urgent transformation to how health services are delivered in Scotland, there’s a risk of a return to the bad old days of ‘boom and bust’, with health boards targeting the nursing workforce for cuts simply to balance the books.”
It comes after NHS data revealed Scottish health boards spent £23 million hiring agency nurses to cover shifts in 2015-16.
An NHS Scotland employee survey last year revealed only 26 per cent of nurses and midwives thought their department had enough staff.
Scottish Labour health spokesperson Anas Sarwar said: “This is a stark warning from the very people who know our NHS best.”
Last night health secretary Shona Robison defended the Scottish Government’s record, citing a £27m support package for improving staffing levels.
She said: “We know there are challenges to be addressed, but it is welcome that in the last NHS employee survey staff remained committed to their roles – with almost nine out of ten willing to go the ‘extra mile’ at work.”