Nurses paid too little - poll
Just one in five members of the public believe nurses providing frontline care are paid a fair wage for the work they do, a survey has revealed.
The poll by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) also found most British adults (88%) agreed many more nurses are needed in hospitals to deliver safe care.
Ahead of the General Election, the union said it is reiterating its calls for all parties to listen to nurses and the public and prioritise a long-term strategy to train, recruit and retain enough nurses to meet the demands facing the NHS.
The RCN said it is "already concerned" that there are fewer nurses than in 2010 with the staffing levels "cut back to the bare bones" and that an already over-stretched workforce is being forced to carry out even more work, with serious implications for patient care and staff welfare.
While just 19% of respondents agreed nurses providing frontline care are paid enough, only just over a quarter (27%) think that the nursing profession is portrayed fairly by the media.
The poll found 83% felt that nurses should speak up in the General Election campaign about what they believe matters.
It comes as think-tank the King's Fund warned of a shortage of NHS workers in key areas such as primary care and mental health, which it said could jeopardise plans outlined in NHS England's Five Year Forward View to improve care.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive & general secretary of the RCN, said: "This election has shown how central the NHS is to people's lives. It also shows what we, the British public, expect from our politicians in responding to the priorities that affect us all.
"Voters are astute in their understanding of how health services work, and how much they rely on having the right number of staff to operate safely.
"Nurses should take heart from the clear public support they have for the work they do. However, this is not enough on its own to sustain morale through hard times, in the face of negative media portrayals which the public see as unfair.
"Nursing is central to the NHS and the NHS is a defining issue for the future of the country. As the electioneering and parliamentary deal-making continue through the weeks to come, all parties would do well to remember the value of nursing and the public's desire to see the profession recognised and rewarded."