In its employment survey, the RCN found members had seen a fall in staff numbers and were struggling with work stress.
Nearly half of nurses have worked on at least two occasions in the past year despite not feeling well enough to do so, according to new figures.
The Royal College of Nursing’s employment survey for Wales found that nurses across the country are struggling under heavy workloads and decreasing staff levels.
It found that workload and stress are the main personal concerns for nursing staff, ranked above all other concerns about their and their families’ health, their own job security and that of their partner or household income and expenditure.
Half of all respondents said they have worked on at least two occasions in the previous 12 months despite not feeling well enough to do so and 55% reported a drop in the level of registered nurses in the past year.
More than 50% said they work extra hours on every shift or several shifts a week while nearly two-thirds (64%) are working more than two hours overtime every week.
The RCN has repeatedly warned about conditions facing nurses in wards across Wales’ hospitals, including that they don’t have time to care for patients properly.
The organisation said the employement survey took place in a time of increased uncertainty and pressures on the nursing workforce with concerns over job security, training and continuing professional development.
Peter Meredith-Smith, acting director of RCN Wales, said: “Despite feeling undervalued, underpaid and under threat our nurses continue to put in the hours and dedication to deliver high quality care.
“Excellent patient care is dependent upon the skills and expertise of nurses but there are simply not enough in the workforce. In order to realise the share goal of reshaping our health service and meeting the needs and demands of patients, it vital that the current nurse shortages are reversed.”
Mr Meredith-Smith said he believed that a bill proposed by Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader, Kirsty Williams, to introduce legal minimum staffing levels for nurses would help address many of the issues.
He said: “The proposed Minimum Nurse Staffing Levels Bill submitted by Kirsty Williams is calling for the Government to set minimum staffing levels for nursing staffing levels. The RCN has long called for a mandatory legislated requirement for safe staffing and asks that this should take place within national frameworks of evidence based best practice standards which must include flexibility that enables nurses to exercise professional judgement in adjusting local staffing in response to changing patients needs.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said that safe nursing levels were a key priority and they would examine the findings carefully.
They said: “The Welsh Government is pleased to receive the survey results and will consider the findings within it carefully.
“Ensuring there is safe nurse staffing levels in NHS organisations remains a Government priority and we expect health boards and trusts to have systems in place to ensure that all care they provide is safe and of a high quality.
“Between April to September 2013, the number of nurses employed has remained stable across Wales.
“The Minister announced an additional £10 million to support the individual board plans in July 2013. Evidence provided by the health boards indicates improvement in nursing establishments which in turn is leading to better outcomes for patients. However, there is still some way to go.”
Story via www.walesonline.co.uk