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07th Oct 2021

New survey reveals 90% of nurses and midwives are facing mental exhaustion

Katy Brennan

The research also found that 68% are considering leaving the profession.

A new survey conducted by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has highlighted a worrying level of burnout among nurses and midwives.

The ‘Psychological Impact of COVID-19 on Nurses and Midwives in Ireland survey’ was carried out between April and July 2021 to gain an understanding of the psychological impact the pandemic has had.

Almost 2000 nurses and midwives were involved in the survey, with 91% saying they are facing mental exhaustion as a result of the pandemic.

The results also confirmed that 68% are considering leaving the profession as a consequence of COVID-19 – with 25% planning to leave within the next 12 months.

INMO Head of Education and Professional Development, Steve Pitman, said that the survey “paints a bleak picture” of the emotional and physical strain COVID-19 has placed on nurses on midwives.

“62% of the members who responded to the survey indicated that they had cared for patients that died as a result of COVID-19, and while nurses and midwives deal with and care for dying patients normally, the level of death in this short period far exceeded previous levels in circumstances that were far from ideal in many instances.

“Nurses and midwives have faced an unprecedented increase in workload demands resulting directly or indirectly from the pandemic. Coupled with caring for patients with the virus, witnessing the physical and emotional effects on patients, families, and loved ones, it has taken a psychological toll.

“The vast majority of our members are now telling us they’re mentally and emotionally exhausted, and this is going to have an impact on their safety and the safety of their patients.”

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that the results of the survey cannot be ignored and that immediate action is needed.

“Before COVID-19 landed on our shores, we already sounded the alarm that the recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives was going to be something that Government and HSE needed to focus on.

“We have to make sure that the predictions in this survey do not become a reality. We must immediately put measures in place to support our workforce. Recovery must be a national priority, as this workforce make up a third of the total workforce.

“Over the coming weeks we need to see planned funding for the implementation of safe staffing across the health service, and measures to reduce pressure on hospitals. Next week’s Budget and the subsequent HSE Winter Plan must make it clear how the Government plans to ensure that safe staffing is a priority.”