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Letters

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Patients need to know how hospitals perform.

As patients can now choose where they are treated, I believe it is more important than ever for them to see at a glance how their local hospital is performing.
The Healthcare Commission’s State of Healthcare 2007 report calls for more data on care to be made easily accessible on a comparative basis across the public and private sectors.
We are working with the Royal College of Surgery’s Clinical Effectiveness Unit and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on an audit into patient-reported outcomes at NHS and Independent Sector Treatment Centres.
We all expect access to up-to-date accurate information when making decisions about all aspects of our lives today. Healthcare should not be any different.
Jean-Jacques de Gorter,
Director of clinical services, Spire Healthcare


Do we have to accept staged backpay now?

Having been obliged to accept a staged pay award, our trust has gone one step further.
We have just received an email saying that due to a new payroll system we will have our pay rise in November but that backpay will be paid in two stages in December and January.
As this rise has been under debate since April it is a little insulting that it is deemed acceptable for us to wait even longer for money we were entitled to eight months ago.
Prue Barry
Staff nurse, Worcester


NMC disagrees with DH on part 3 register

It is inaccurate to state that specialist community public health nurses are not regulated because they are listed only on the specialist community public health nurses’ part of the NMC’s register (NT News, 4 December, p2).
The NMC regulates two professions – nursing and midwifery. Entry to the specialist community public health nurses’ part of the register is only accessed by first registering as a nurse or midwife. There is no direct entry to the specialist community public health nurses’ part of the NMC’s register. Therefore, nurses and midwives on this part of the register are regulated.
The Department of Health’s concern is with Council’s decision in December 2005, which came into effect from December 2006, to allow a specialist community public health nurse to renew their registration in that part of the register, without first renewing their original nursing or midwifery registration.
Council has voted to reverse this decision made in December 2005 and has agreed that anyone registered as a specialist community public health nurse will be required to maintain their original registration.
The NMC will be writing to reassure all specialist community public health nurses of the position and inform them of the process they will need to undertake to support the decision taken by Council.
Nancy Kirkland
President, NMC

Editor’s note: Our story was not inaccurate. According to the Department of Health, the NMC 2005 decision was legally unsound. ‘If SCPHNs are not registered nurses or midwives, NMC has no jurisdiction to register them, charge them fees, or carry out fitness to practise investigations or hearings if necessary. They would effectively be de-regulated. It would pose a huge public safety risk if SCPHNs were not regulated.’
Our story refers to the 3,500 SCPHNs who are no longer registered on part one or part two of the register and as they are only registered on part three, are not regulated, according to the DH.


The Reissmann case is a mental health issue

The strike of Unison members at Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust over the sacking of their colleague and union branch secretary, Karen Reissmann, raises questions about media coverage when mental health is the backdrop to a dispute.
The case has been reasonably well presented in the media but the mental health dimension has also been negatively exploited.
For example, comedians have exploited people with mental health problems for their comedy value and have made jokes about sanity, madness and schizophrenia.
There have also been suggestions that service cuts will make the public vulnerable to dangerous or helpless individuals who are no longer properly supervised. This is the old stereotype that people with mental health problems are violent or passive.
In recent years mental health service users have organised themselves into a dynamic social movement with a positive agenda for change in mental health services. Many staff and trade unionists share these patient-led objectives. This could become a strong alliance that is as much about realising a new politics of mental health, as reacting to under-resourcing within the field of mental health.
We need to challenge damaging stereotypes that could jeopardise such an alliance and its achievements.
Staff and service users are in this together – the defence of the NHS and the promotion of high-quality user-friendly services are issues of common interest.
Mick McKeown
Helen Spandler
Mark Cresswell

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