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Round-up of last month’s main workforce and policy news affecting UK nurses

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Miss any of the news affecting the profession during February and early March 2017? Catch up with our summary of the main nursing headlines.


Exclusive: NHS loses 9% of public health nurses in a year

The number of health visitors working in the NHS in England has fallen by almost 9% in the space of a year, leading to warnings by senior nurses that the workforce could soon return to previous dangerously low levels.

New analysis by Nursing Times of the latest official data has revealed NHS school nurse numbers have also dropped by 6% in the same amount of time.

The reduction in staffing levels has taken place in the 12 months since the commissioning of public health services fully transferred over to cash-strapped local authorities, in October 2015.

Cheryll Adams

Cheryll Adams

Cheryll Adams

In October 2015 there were 10,309 whole-time equivalent health visitors working in the NHS – the highest level recorded for over a decade. But by October 2016 there were just 9,410 WTE health visitors working in the NHS – an 8.7% drop, equal to a loss of 899 posts. At the same time, there was a 6% reduction in the number of WTE school nurses working in the NHS, down from 2,725 in October 2015 to 2,561 a year later.

Dr Cheryll Adams, executive director of the Institute of Health Visiting, said services could not afford to lose recent boosts to the workforce, because birth rates had risen “dramatically” in the past decade and there was a declining number of nurses taking up health visitor training places.

“There is a very real risk health visiting numbers could fall – in terms of ratios of staff to children – to where they were in 2010, and it could happen in the next 12 months,” she said.


Top nurse academic warns Francis lessons being ‘forgotten’

peter griffiths

peter griffiths

Peter Griffiths

A leading nurse staffing expert has warned that the “lessons of Francis” are starting to be “forgotten”, due to NHS trusts increasingly being expected to focus on finances over safe nurse staffing levels. Professor Peter Griffiths, chair of health services research at the University of Southampton, said: “Our starting point should not be ‘can we afford enough nurses’, but ‘can we afford not to have them?’.” “It was one of the key lessons from the Francis inquiry,” he told delegates at a safe staffing conference.


Nursing fields ‘safe for now’ but new threat on horizon


Source: buket bariskan

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has said the four fields of nursing will not be removed as part of its current education review, but has not ruled out the possibility of it happening in the future. The regulator told Nursing Times it was currently required by legislation to provide adult, children’s, mental health, and learning disability nursing registrations. But it also confirmed that the current legislation would need to be changed in order to introduce the new nursing associate role onto the register, potentially providing a future opportunity to review the fields at the same time. Meanwhile, a separate report from the Foundation of Nursing Studies indicated that mental health nurses have “no support” for the idea that the four fields of nursing should be discontinued.


Exclusive: Trust creates ‘nursing senate’ to boost staff voice


Allegations of staff bullying and race discrimmination at Barts

St Bartholomew’s Hospital

The largest trust in England is inviting nurses, midwives and allied health professionals to join a “clinical senate”, as part of efforts to ensure they “a voice to be reckoned with” in the planning and delivery of services. Barts Health Trust’s new senate, to be chaired by its chief nurse Caroline Alexander, will be made up of about 80 people who will meet three times a year to debate key professional and care issues and identify potential solutions. Ms Alexander told Nursing Times the initiative was designed to ensure the organisation was “engaging properly from ward to board”.


Student placement scores prompt universities to seek improvements

Student nurse placement narrative

Student nurse placement narrative

Universities said they were working hard to improve clinical placements, after new analysis of the National Student Survey revealed the best and worse places for learning in practice based on feedback from trainee nurses. More than a fifth of students at the five lowest-scoring UK universities did not, on average, agree that they were satisfied with their placement preparation, supervision and other elements. Analysis of average scores revealed satisfaction levels ranged from 77.5% at Staffordshire University and Brighton University to 96.2% at Bradford University.


Exclusive: Major Midlands hospital trust next to apply for US nursing quality accreditation

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham

A hospital trust in Nottingham, and one of the largest in England, is to be the next UK organisation to apply for international recognition of its nursing care through a US scheme. Nottingham University Hospitals Trust has today formally launched its bid to achieve Magnet status – awarded by the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center, an affiliate of the American Nurses Association – by the end of 2019. It follows Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust’s decision to begin its application for Magnet accreditation, a title that is not currently awarded to any UK organisation.


Exclusive: Coroner warns of tissue viability nurse shortage

Luton borders

Luton borders

Luton, Bedfordshire

A senior coroner has voiced serious concerns about a lack of tissue viability nurses in Bedfordshire, after investigating the death of an elderly woman who died from sepsis caused by infected pressure ulcers. Thomas Osborne, senior coroner for Bedfordshire and Luton, warned more people could die if action was not taken to address shortages of tissue viability nurses both in the community and at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital. He called for an urgent review.


Scottish pilot suggests ANPs ‘viable’ alternative to GPs

Nuka system

Scottish pilot suggests ANPs ‘viable’ alternative to GPs

Source: Frank K.

Anchorage, the capital of the US state of Alaska

A primary care model being tested in Scotland, involving advanced nurse practitioners taking over many tasks currently done by GPs, has boosted the quality of care and saved a surgery from closing. The model, based on the Nuka primary care system developed in Alaska, sees practices broken down into small teams made up of a GP, nurse case manager, healthcare assistant and administrator who care for a defined population of patients. It is being tested at the Academy Medical Centre in Forfar.


Innovative project gives nursing students insight into challenges faced by carers

University of Coventry

Film project gives student nurses insight into carers’ issues

Yvette Brown and Faye Tomlinson looking through photographs used for the project

Student nurses in the West Midlands are learning more about the everyday challenges faced by carers via an innovative project that involves documenting experiences through photographs and film. The Coventry University project sees patient carers taking pictures during a two-week period to capture their thoughts, emotions and the situations they encounter. The images and captions are being turned into films, which are set to be routinely screened to health and social care students.


Queen’s nurses to return to Scotland after almost 50 years

Queen's Nursing Institute

Calendar brings community nursing history to life

District nurse near Loch Fyne, Argyll, in 1959

Around 20 community nurses are take part in a professional development programme in Scotland that will earn them the right to use the coveted Queen’s Nurse title. Those that complete the programme, which is being set up by the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland, will be the first nurses to receive the title in the country for almost half a century.


Midlands trust appoints midwife director as chief nurse

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust

Midlands trust appoints midwife director as chief nurse

Elaine Newell

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust has appointed Elaine Newell as its new chief nurse. Ms Newell, who has been acting chief nurse since December, is the trust’s former director of midwifery and is credited with transforming standards of maternity care. She replaces Colin Ovington.


New rules on receiving gifts and declaring extra payments


hospital staff don’t take care of themselves, and, perhaps more worryingly, that hospital management doesn’t see their well-being as a problem

Health service nurses will be able to receive “small tokens of gratitude” from patients but must declare details of any non-NHS work they undertake, according to new rules on conflicts of interest. Nurses can receive a box of chocolates or other small tokens of gratitude from patients but must decline anything that could be seen to affect their professional judgement, said NHS England.


Catwalk show celebrates history of nurse uniforms


Catwalk show celebrates history of nurse uniforms

A 1970s nurse

Nurse uniforms from the past century to the present day were among the highlights of a special catwalk show last month to celebrate the history of a leading workwear company. It included a specially re-created Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse from the First World War, a 1940s nurse with red-lined blue cape, a 1970s nurse, a nurse from the year 2000, and a nurse in modern scrubs. The uniforms formed part of an event celebrating over 150 years of the Bristol-based firm Alexandra.


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