The Royal College of Nursing is lobbying the House of Lords to amend five areas of the Health Bill it believes will cause “serious and detrimental” harm to the NHS and patient care.
The bill is due to be debated by peers this week after passing through the House of Commons last month.
In a briefing paper, the RCN welcomed some of the concessions won by MPs but said many areas of concern remained. It is now attempting to secure changes to five main areas of the bill, to ensure it recognises the need to:
*Provide a service that promotes integration and collaboration
*Introduce mandatory staffing levels and the regulation of all healthcare workers
*Resist moves towards local pay bargaining
*Price services in a way that allows for high quality patient pathways
*Retain a cap on the proportion of trusts’ income that can come from private patients.
The RCN is likely to focus on securing amendments regarding staffing levels and healthcare assistant regulation, Nursing Times understands. It is talking to peers from all political parties in the hope they will agree to table amendments on its behalf.
As Nursing Times went to press, 94 peers were due to speak in Tuesday’s debate on the bill – thought to be the highest number since 1999.
The RCN’s priority areas
The RCN is seeking an amendment to specify that the ratio of registered to non-registered nursing staff should not fall below 65:35 in general and surgical wards.
Under the amendment, it would be up to the NHS Commissioning Board – being established as a statutory body next October - to stipulate that providers of NHS services do not allow ratios to fall below this level.
It would also be necessary to establish a benchmark for how many patients a registered nurse should take responsibility for, the briefing states.
The briefing calls the government’s decision not to provide statutory regulation for healthcare assistants a “mistake”.
The RCN wants to amend the bill so that HCAs and assistant practitioners have to sign up to a mandatory register.
The document notes that this was endorsed in a health select committee report in July, which said it was the “only approach which maximises public protection”.