The first report from our Building a Better Future member survey reveals how professional lives have been changed by the pandemic.
The results show that across the NHS and independent sectors the percentage thinking of leaving the profession has increased to 36%, from 27% last year.
For those thinking of leaving, 61% said pay is a factor. Other factors cited include the way nursing staff have been treated during the COVID-19 pandemic (44%), low staffing levels (43%), and lack of management support (42%).
Of the 42,000 members who responded to our survey, nearly three quarters (73%) said higher pay would make them feel more valued.
The RCN, along with other health unions, has this month called for pay negotiations to be brought forward so that pay deals due to expire in 2021 can be replaced with a pay rise sooner.
The new findings also show that while 74% of respondents have felt more valued by the general public in recent months, just 18% said they felt more valued by the government.
Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, said: “The responses from our members working in all sectors reveal how their professional lives have been changed by the pandemic. Existing tensions have been exacerbated. Earlier sticking plasters are no longer covering gaping holes.
“The government must take steps to retain the nursing staff we have, as well as to increase entry into the profession. Investment in staffing and pay is about both patient safety and the health of our workers. That is how to equip all NHS and care services to help keep patients safe.”