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Priority health service for NHS staff under discussion

  • 11 Comments

Members of the Royal College of Nursing will lobby for NHS staff to receive priority treatment from the health service when they are sick at this year’s RCN Congress in Bournemouth.

Delegates are due to debate a resolution put forward by the college’s Inner North East London branch, calling for RCN support for frontline healthcare staff to be fast-tracked for treatment.

In a statement supporting its resolution, the branch said the Boorman report on NHS health and wellbeing, published last year, set out the case for fast-tracking NHS staff. It added that a pilot scheme in Scotland had shown that rapid access to physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and mental health support, was found to be cost effective and successful in rehabilitating staff back to work.

The call follows a Nursing Times survey, published earlier this month, which found 79 per cent of respondents thought their trust did not give enough priority to nurse health and wellbeing.

If congress delegates pass the resolution, the RCN’s council will be required to lobby government on the issue.  

RCN Congress will also debate resolutions calling for a learning disability liaison nurse to be appointed to every hospital, that first aid training should be mandatory in schools, and that directors of nursing – rather than general NHS managers – should be responsible for line managing nurses.

Speaking in support of the resolution on learning disabilities, Regional director for the RCN Eastern region Karen Webb said: “Patients with learning disabilities are more vulnerable to health problems, have specific health needs and as such require specialist nursing care. Such specialist nurses, as in other fields, can help to enhance quality of life, reduce hospital admissions and help families cope with specific conditions.” 

  • 11 Comments

Readers' comments (11)

  • This is a damn good idea I think, not only should we look after our own (as well as being a nice thank you for dedicated service), this will go a long way to helping the NHS with those who are on long term sick leave through no fault of their own (many want to return to work). Other countries already have this.

    I don't think it goes far enough though. If trusts want to help Nurses with their health and well being, then more radical measures are needed to actual working practice BEFORE we get sick.

    Little things such as ensuring shifts are worked in patterns such as one week of lates, a week of earlys etc instead of being random and haphazard which does our health no good (factories and other shift workers manage this), limiting the amount of night duty and ensuring there is adequate turnaround, ensuring days off are given together, ensuring that staff can take holidays when THEY choose (with adequate and fair notice), not when management deems they can have a day off will help with work/life balance. Little things such as ensuring their is enough staff on duty EVERY shift (and yes this may mean employing more Nurses for you moronic managers and executives out there) so Nurses don't get burned out, etc etc etc.

    Also, how about putting a heavily subsidised or even free staff gym in every hospital so that staff can find it easier to stay fit around work?

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  • I'm currently a student nurse and we're 'trained' to not judge or prioritorize other clients because of their social status. I don't understand how they could implement something like this without undermining that principle :S

    I seems to me that the NHS is treating the symptom (absence) and not the disease (high workloads and low recognition). Surely it would be better for the health and wellbeing of the staff to reduce the stress experienced at work?

    Also, if they are going to prioritize NHS staff, what about prioritizing other professionals in high stress workplaces such as teachers, firemen or policemen?

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  • Amy, I see your point about being 'trained' not to judge on social status, but I do not think that is the case here. Even if it was would that be so bad? Isn't it about time those of us who work in public service get some priority and recognition? But I am being a little sarcastic here, sorry.

    You are right though, they are treating the symptom and not the disease, and like I said above attention IS needed on issues we have mentioned. HOWEVER, saying that, it has been proven in other countries and even in the controlled pilot scheme in Scotland, that doing this actually INCREASES productivity amongst staff, so it helps everyone in the long run.

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  • In a one size fit's all health service how can this be right? Surely no one can jump to the front of he queue just because they happen to work in the shop? What happened to equality and equity here?

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  • “Patients with learning disabilities are more vulnerable to health problems, have specific health needs and as such require specialist nursing care. Such specialist nurses, as in other fields, can help to enhance quality of life, reduce hospital admissions and help families cope with specific conditions.”


    Why are we in a working in world where the the tinyiest amount of knowledge automatically means the nurse get's the title of 'specialist'? You spend 3 or 4 years on basic nurse education and they appear to know nothing and have no skills? Let's get the fundementals right, please RCN.

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  • Anonymous | 24-Apr-2010 9:09 pm, equality in the NHS? You're joking right? What part of the NHS is equal at the moment? Postcode lottery? Cancer drugs for some not all? etc etc etc etc.

    And would you prefer say a Nurse who injures themselves in the line of duty, then has to take 6, 7, 8 or more months off work waiting for treatment, or a Nurse who injures themselves in the line of duty and then is back in work in a couple of months because they have been fast tracked for treatment? Which option do you think is better for the individual Nurse AND the workforce as a whole?

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  • "Which option do you think is better for the individual Nurse AND the workforce as a whole?"

    That's hardly the point - the NHS is there for everyone, how are you going to effectively deferentiate whether someone got an injury at work or elsewhere. It's the thin end of the wedge, which other state employees should have more priveleges with the NHS than the rest of society?

    I agree with the first point you made however - I was joking, it's not an equal or equitable system. Which is why I carry private medical insurance.

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  • I think in this case the argument for 'equality and equity' is slightly ridiculous in this case.

    Of course nurses and other nhs staff should get priority treatment. If nobody is taking care of the nurses, how are the nurses expected to take care of anyone else?

    Sick nurses = no treatment... it's not rocket science.

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  • I also agree completely that more preventative measures should be taken so that we don't get sick in the first place.

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  • I recently saw a surgeon. He put me straight to the top of his list for my surgery. He said himself that the sooner we get you sorted out and back to work the better. . . .i am a nurse by the way.

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