More Isle of Wight nurses were unhappy with staffing levels in 2021 than in 2020, in community and acute areas of the NHS, according to a survey by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

However, while around fifteen per cent fewer community nurses agreed, or strongly agreed, that there were enough staff, Isle of Wight mental health nurses bucked the trend. They were the only ones across the region to be more satisfied.

Between September and November, nurses were asked whether there were "enough staff at this organisation for me to do my job properly."

According to results just published, fewer Island nurses "strongly agreed" or "agreed" with the statement in 2021, compared to 2020.

Isle of Wight County Press: St Mary's Hospital on the Isle of Wight.St Mary's Hospital on the Isle of Wight.

What were the results of the Royal College of Medicine's survey of Isle of Wight nurses?

Of those working in acute medicine at the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, which runs St Mary's Hospital, 28.2 per cent either strongly agreed, or agreed that there were enough staff to do the job properly in 2020, compared to 24.3 per cent in 2021.

Among community nurses on the Island, the number plummeted from 40.4 per cent, in 2020, to just 26.4 per cent in 2021.

Trusts including the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, Solent NHS Trust, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust were also surveyed and all showed increased dissatisfaction among nurses.

However, in the stand-out result for the region, the Isle of Wight's mental health nurses were MORE satisfied in 2021 (21.3 per cent) compared to 2020 (17.3 per cent).

It had been identified as an area for rapid improvement.

What has the Isle of Wight NHS Trust said about the survey results?

A spokesperson for Isle of Wight NHS Trust said: "We are pleased...the latest NHS Staff Survey and the recent CQC Inspection report indicate we have made improvements across the Trust, in relation to staff development and wellbeing.

"This year, the NHS Staff Survey was aligned with the NHS People Promise and we scored above national average in 3 themes, including feeling recognised and rewarded, always learning and being flexible.

"As part of supporting our local workforce, we have invested over £1.7 million in apprenticeship courses, with 161 people currently studying towards apprenticeship qualifications in a range of clinical and non-clinical roles, including 93 staff developing their nursing careers through this scheme.

"We also have a successful international nursing recruitment programme, employing over 500 members of international staff from over 60 countries, including 287 qualified nurses."

Dr Sheila Marriott, Interim Regional Director of the RCN in the South East, said: "When nurses say there are too few staff for them to do their job properly, the Government needs to sit up and listen. 

"The number of nurses simply isn’t keeping pace with the demand. Nurses are exhausted and demoralised – imagine trying to look after patients when you don’t have enough colleagues to help you. Care can be left undone and patient safety may be compromised.

"Hospitals and other care providers are working hard to recruit and retain enough nurses to fill the gaps, but they’ve been frustrated by the Government ducking its responsibility to ensure a sufficient supply of staff for years. There isn’t a quick fix for this. 

"There is no law on safe staffing – the Government could change this in the Health and Care Bill going through Parliament now, but they are persistently ignoring the glaring omission to have accountability for workforce planning and supply, as part of service and financial planning. The Government must commit to delivering and funding a workforce plan for the long term that guarantees there are enough nursing staff in the health and care system to provide patients with consistently safe and effective care." 

The survey results also revealed fewer nursing staff across the Solent region are satisfied with their level of pay than they were a year ago.