The resistance of nurses to austerity measures in the health sector during the financial crisis in Spain
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Objective: This study explores nurses' perspectives on how the financial crisis and austerity measures introduced in the Spanish Health System affected their ability to provide care in these new circumstances. Method: Cross-sectional observational study. In 2013, during an international annual congress in Spain, 123 nurses out of a total of 350 attendees completed a 14-item open-ended response questionnaire to examine the perceived impact of the financial crisis and austerity measures on quality of services and their experiences at work. Results: 84% of the sample were women and the mean age of the respondents was 40 (standard deviation: 11.13). Seventy-seven percent of the nurses reported austerity measures introduced in their workplace. The nurses voiced strong disagreement with austerity measures (86%), due to the negative repercussions on nurses' working conditions (47%), a decrease in human resources (37%), negative effects such as work overload (37%); a perceived deterioration in the quality of healthcare (77%) and pharmaceutical services (86%); and worsening conditions in access to health services by vulnerable populations (43%), leading to ethical dilemmas in clinical practice (26%). Conclusion: This study showed that nurses participating in this study overwhelmingly opposed austerity measures imposed on the National Health System as a response to the financial crisis, which had a negative effect both on nurses' working conditions and on the quality of health services. Institutional measures to improve recruitment and retention of nurses including policies for preventing stress and burnout, a decrease of patient-nurse ratio, and greater work stability should be considered.
Is part ofGaceta Sanitaria, 2020, vol. 35, núm. 1, p. 42-47
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