Nurses 'morally distressed'
Nurses in New Zealand are so morally distressed nearly half of them have considered leaving their current positions and nearly a fifth want to leave now, a new survey has revealed.
Nurses say they facing face constant external pressure which leads their patients to receive inadequate or inappropriate care.
Nearly 90 per cent said they were distressed when having to work with colleagues they considered to be unsafe.
The results from a survey of 412 nurses throughout the country have been described as "very disturbing" by the man behind the figures.
Massey University's Dr Martin Woods said the survey revealed that nurses' ethical judgements were often tested while at work and 48 per cent had become so morally distressed they considered leaving. Sixteen per cent said they were currently considering leaving their clinical position.
One nurse summed up the mood among colleagues.
"I am considering leaving the job that I generally enjoy due to the lack of leadership and pressures from management to accept more numbers of patients or patients with high acuity of care with no increase in resources," they wrote.
Woods said the survey results showed that moral distress was a reality nurses were struggling with.
"And they are really struggling. Stories of burnout and leaving not just a given position but nursing itself must be taken seriously," the nursing ethics and education expert said.
The survey suggested that New Zealand nurses faced five major issues. The most frequent was having to deliver less than optimal care because of reduced costs and pressure from management.
Others included having to watch patients suffer because of a lack of provider continuity or competence, and having to carry out orders they thought were unnecessary or which prolonged the dying process.
"These occur more frequently - and often with more devastating effects - than perhaps may have otherwise been anticipated," Woods said.
Factors which attributed to the nurses' distress were mostly institutional constraints, such as a lack of peer and managerial support and difficult working conditions, Woods said.
Younger nurses were more likely to be morally distressed, but they were also more likely to have received ethics training at university, Woods said.
The survey was modelled off a template used overseas and was the first time a survey of this nature had been conducted in New Zealand. The results were similar to those from overseas.
Woods hoped to use the results to develop a set of guidelines for health care providers.
"It's sort of a reminder to health care providers that nurses can only do so much under certain conditions and need support."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Palmerston North's proposal for a city-wide smoking ban is:Related story: Council mulls city-wide smoking ban