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In the news this week: 29 October 2016

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Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has revealed the government is having “constructive” negotiations with unions about reforms to the NHS Agenda for Change contract framework which affects one million staff.

In an interview last week with Nursing Times’ sister title HSJ he said the changes he wanted to make would “improve quality of care and morale”.

The extent to which nurses are struggling financially has been revealed in a new survey by Unison that found registrants were turning to high-rate loans, pawning their belongings and visiting food banks. The union’s head of health, Christina McAnea, said the findings painted a “shocking picture” of the effects of pay restraint on staff and called for the government to end its cap of 1% pay rises for NHS workers.

Pay for nursing associate trainees and some of the competencies they are expected to gain have been revealed in a advert for the role posted by Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust. Trainees will earn NHS band 2 and 3 wages during the two-year programme, with a band 4 salary likely upon qualifying. They will be trained to develop knowledge of medications and their administration and also to monitor patients’ vital signs. However Health Education England said that finals details were yet to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, Health Education England has said it wants to see nursing associates regulated, but did not specify whether it believed this should be responsibility of the Nursing and Midwifery Council or another regulator. HEE said the Department of Health was expected to make a decision on the issue in the coming weeks.

Nurse retention is on the agenda for regulator NHS Improvement via a new programme it is launching aimed at trusts with the best and worst rates of turnover. Senior nurses at the body said they would investigate a range of issues that could be causing nurses to leave employers, including staffing shortages and regional factors, and would bring organisations together to share best practice.

In Scotland an NHS health board is developing plans to pilot a version of a nurse-led community care model from the Netherlands. The Buurtzorg model is being adapted by NHS Borders to look at how a more “holistic” approach to services can be provided and to ensure only the minimum number of professionals provide care in people’s homes.

A primary care nurse from Sussex was crowned “nurse of the year” at the Nursing Times Awards 2016, which took place in London on Wednesday. Erin Docherty, a mental health nurse who works at the Saxonbrook Medical Practice in Crawley, was praised for founding a wellbeing clinic providing patients with access to a mental health specialist at their local GP practice. The ceremony saw nurses recognised across 22 categories. The lifetime achievement award went to Professor Elizabeth Anionwu for her work as a sickle cell nurse, academic and Mary Seacole statue campaigner.

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