A survey shows that the UK nurses are worried over the falling standards of their own profession.
When rating standards generally, the majority (58 per cent) described the standard as either 'mediocre', 'low' or 'worryingly low.'
Experienced nurses - those who have been nursing for longer than ten years - were more likely to have a lower opinion of current standards. Almost 70 per cent rated current care standards as mediocre or worse, reports the Nursing Standard magazine.
One respondent wrote: 'As professionals, we need to pull up those who are not providing adequate care. In my experience, the main problem is that when you tell a nurse about their poor attitude or lack of care, they run to their union representative or go off sick with stress. Bring back senior nurses with authority and a spine. If we don't stamp out this uncaring attitude, the profession will fall apart. Sadly, it looks as if we are pretty close.'
Those who took part in the survey were not too very excited about the quality of their own work either. When asked to rate the quality of care they provided to their patients or clients during the past month (November 2011), 22 per cent of readers scored themselves 9 out of 10 (really good) and 27 per cent rated their care at 8 out of 10 (pretty good).
Overall, the mean score was 6.86 - somewhere between 'not bad' and 'reasonable.'
The survey covered 2254 nurses, the magazine said.
A large number of comments indicate deep frustration. Many point to multiple factors that mitigate against nurses providing higher standards of care, such as high patient throughput, burdensome amounts of paperwork and poor leadership.
But a lack of staff is the biggest single reason why nurses say they find it difficult to provide care of which they are proud. When asked what factor would improve their quality scores, 19 per cent of respondents opted for 'more registered and support staff'.
Interestingly, they also regarded lack of staff as 'the worst aspect' of their job (17 per cent), followed by paperwork and stressful work (both 11 per cent).
One respondent explained that she loves her job but added: 'I hate it that I cannot give the care I want to - or that people deserve - because we do not have enough staff. We are expected to cope with low numbers.
'My ward manager fights, but there is genuinely nothing she can do, and it is the same across the board. We need more staff.'
The pressures nurses face bring with them an increased risk of burnout. Lauren Mason, nurse from London, said: 'Most nurses think they will never meet all the standards required of them, or they become sick trying.
'My colleagues and I are getting burned out trying to be everything to everyone. We go home after a shift absolutely exhausted - emotionally, physically and mentally. We have barely had time for a drink or a break because we are desperately trying to fulfil the demands put on us from all angles - and yet we still feel we have not done enough because someone has had to wait for something.'
'I love my job,' said one. 'It is a privilege to care for people, but it upsets me to see the deterioration of nursing standards over two decades.'
However, yet others seem determined to be positive despite the tough situations. 'I want to do more to ensure that people are cared for properly. I want to turn this great profession back into one to be proud of,' said one.
Nurse Lucy John said: 'I will endeavour to maintain a positive attitude and pride. I believe a wise person once said, '''You must be the change you wish to see in the world."'