Almost three quarters of nurses said they would not recommend nursing as a career - an increase of nearly 15 per cent on last year, according to the report carried out for the trade union, Unison.
"Paying the Price", based on a survey of 2,000 nurses by the independent research organisation Turu, found that the overwhelming majority of nurses (83 per cent) do not believe they are well paid for the jobs they do, an increase of six per cent since last year. The lowest paid nurses have a starting salary of pounds 8,315.
Of the 71 per cent of nurses considering leaving their jobs, 84 per cent said they were serious about leaving and more than half gave dissatisfaction with their pay as a reason for leaving their job.
According to the survey, almost 29 per cent of nurses work more than two hours unpaid overtime each week and one in eight (13 per cent) work more than four hours unpaid. More than 41 per cent of nurses receive fewer than four days' training a year and a quarter pay for some or all of their training themselves.
Unison, Britain's biggest health union which represents nearly half of the 500,000-strong nursing workforce, has submitted the report as evidence to the Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Pay Review Body (PRB).
It is urging the PRB to take radical action to tackle the nurse recruitment and retention crisis and to lift morale.
As well as a substantial across-the-board increase, Unison proposes a restructuring of key grades so that the lowest-paid nurses start on pounds 9,215 (from pounds 8,315) and hard-pressed staff nurses have a starting salary of pounds 14,225 (from pounds 12,855) rising to pounds 17,030.
Such moves are necessary to keep the profession going, says the union.
More than 60 per cent of those questions reported frequent staff shortages.
Eight in 10 nurses told the survey that they believed morale had worsened and 79 per cent said their workload had increased - although that was 10 per cent down on last year. Nine in 10 said that stress levels had increased.
"Despite the rewards of nursing in terms of high public esteem and job satisfaction, the daily reality is a cocktail of under-staffed wards, pathetic pay and poor prospects," said Malcolm Wing, the head of nursing at Unison.
"For the health of the NHS, Unison appeals to the Government to introduce a new pay system to stop the cycle of boom and bust in nurses' pay. Otherwise we will all have to pay the price."Reuse content