More than half of nurses think patient care is mediocre or worse with some admitting they are 'ashamed' of their profession
Most nurses think the care they give patients is mediocre or worse, according to a poll.
Some admit that at times standards are so poor they feel 'ashamed' of the profession.
And senior nurses say that when they try and tell other staff to improve they go off sick or run to their union.
Poor service: More than half of the nation's nurses are critical of patient care
But many say poor staffing levels are preventing them from providing the highest standard of care for patients.
A poll of 2,554 nurses carried out by Nursing Standard magazine found 58 per cent thought that care was 'mediocre', or worse.
This included 10 per cent who thought care was 'worringly very low' and another 10 per cent who thought it was “low.”
One unnamed senior nurse said: 'As professionals, we need to pull up those who are not providing adequate care.
'In my experience, the main problem is that when you tell a nurse about their poor attitude or lack of care, they run to their union representative or go off sick with stress.
'Bring back senior nurses with authority and a spine. If we don’t stamp out this uncaring attitude, the profession will fall apart. Sadly, it looks as if we are pretty close.'
Power struggle: More nurses believe they deserve a stronger say to ensure patient care improves
But one in five said there were not enough staff on the wards for them to provide the highest standards of care.
And many blamed poor staffing levels for not being able to communicate with patients, help them eat or drink or go to the toilet.
Claire Gibbs, a nurse who took part in the survey said: 'The number of nursing staff compared to the number of patients is absolutely not enough.
'At times, it is dangerous. Nursing staff probably get more upset than patients about not being able to do their jobs properly. It is not fair that nurses get the criticism without the public understanding why.'
The standard of nursing in the NHS has recently been thrust into the spotlight following several damning reports into patient care.
Last year a series of reports by the Health Service Ombudsman, the Care Quality Commission and the Patients Association exposed how elderly patients were routinely ignored on wards and not helped to eat, drink or even assisted to the toilet.
But according to the poll, 31 per cent of nurses said the main reason patients were not helped at meal-times was poor staffing levels.
And 41 per cent blamed lack of staff for not communicating enough with patients.
Katherine Murphy, director of the Patients Association, who is also a former nurse, said: 'Low staffing levels have a detrimental effect on care, but if you have good ward leaders they can see what needs to be done.'