Most nurses have thought about leaving the profession due to cost-of-living pressures in the past year, a survey from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland suggests.
Some 60% said they had considered leaving nursing altogether due to financial concerns.
The survey also suggested 21% had difficulties managing their finances or missed bills in the last year, while 23% had gone without food or skipped meals.
Meanwhile, 91% said financial concerns had some impact on their mental health and 43% said they had worked longer than their contracted hours.
Asked if it is likely or very likely they will leave the profession in the next five years, 49% said yes.
About 1,000 RCN members took part in the survey during January.
Ahead of the stage one Scottish Budget debate later this week, the union says it is concerned by potential recruitment freezes from health boards looking to save money.
They also called on the Scottish Government to implement recommendations from the most recent pay review for NHS staff.
Colin Poolman, RCN Scotland Director, said: “These results are really concerning.
“I feel for all nursing staff who, at the same time as they try to hold together services under extreme pressure and provide high quality care, are struggling to stay afloat financially.
“Since the pandemic, we have seen growing numbers of staff quitting nursing altogether.
“Our results show that those numbers could rise even more steeply. That’s a trend health and social care services cannot afford to see with nursing vacancy rates already at stubbornly high levels.”
He added: “While budgets are tight right now, this is not the time to be pulling resources from the nursing workforce.
“We believe there are solutions but they require investment now.”
He also called on the Government to boost the support package for nursing students.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our workforce in NHS Scotland is our most important and highly-valued asset. Recognising this, we have had meaningful engagement with trade unions and over the last two years we have invested £1 billion in NHS Agenda for Change pay to support staff, including nurses, through the cost-of-living crisis and to ensure they remain overall the best paid in the UK. This also included a one-off payment of between £387 and £939 depending on banding.
“For eligible nursing and midwifery students, we provide the highest non-repayable, non-means tested bursary support in the UK at £10,000, as well as reimbursement of expenses and a range of allowances.
“However, we are working closely with key partners, including the RCN, as part of the nursing and midwifery taskforce to explore what more can be done to attract and retain more people into nursing and midwifery, and will recommend a workplan of actions to support longer-term workforce sustainability in due course.
“The Health Secretary is meeting with trade unions this month to discuss the outcome of the Agenda for Change review.”