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“A wealth of knowledge”: a survey of the employment experiences of older nurses and midwives in the NHS

Wray, Jane; Aspland, Jo; Gibson, Helen; Stimpson, Anne; Watson, Roger


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Dr Jane Wray
Senior Lecturer in Nursing, Senior Clinical Nurse Advisor National Preceptorship Programme for England

Jo Aspland

Helen Gibson

Anne Stimpson


Background: The United Kingdom’s National Health Service workforce is ageing, and the specific needs of this sector of its workforce need to be addressed. Nursing and midwifery shortage is a worldwide issue, and with increasing demands for care the retention of older nurses and midwives is crucial. Objectives: To report on the employment experiences of nurses and midwives with a particular focus on issues relating to age, ethnicity, ill-health and disability. Design: The postal survey was developed following a literature review and analysis of National Health Service and Government policy documents. Settings: This was a UK-wide survey of nurses and midwives working in National Health Service Trusts and Primary Care Trusts in the UK.2Care Trusts participated, with 2610 surveys distributed; 510 surveys were returned (20% response rate). Results: Nurses and midwives aged 50 years and over had undertaken fewer Continuing Professional Development activities than nurses and midwives under 50. Whilst not related to age, the study also found that twenty percent of the survey sample reported experiencing some form of discrimination. Nurses and midwives did not differ on either quality of life or psychological health using standard instruments. Having a disability did not lead to greater psychological morbidity but did have a negative effect on quality of life. Having a work-related illness had a negative impact on both quality of life and psychological morbidity. In relation to ethnicity, black nurses and midwives reported lower psychological morbidity than other ethnic groups; that is, they enjoyed a higher level of mental wellbeing. Conclusion: The nursing and midwifery workforce is ageing worldwide with a significant proportion now approaching, or having already reached, potential retirement age. With the recent introduction of the age legislation the working lives of older nurses and midwives in the National Health Service have never been more relevant. Whilst access to Continuing Professional Development is pertinent to the retention of nurses and midwives of all ages, in this study, older nurses reported less access than younger nurses. Keywords: [between 2-6] age, workforce issues, questionnaire, survey


Wray, J., Aspland, J., Gibson, H., Stimpson, A., & Watson, R. (2009). “A wealth of knowledge”: a survey of the employment experiences of older nurses and midwives in the NHS. International journal of nursing studies, 46(7), 977-985.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 17, 2008
Online Publication Date Sep 11, 2008
Publication Date 2009-07
Print ISSN 0020-7489
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 46
Issue 7
Pages 977-985
Keywords Age; Workforce issues; Questionnaire; Survey
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