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This week's new summary...

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The much anticipated consultation on planned changes to the student funding system for nursing and midwifery in England, which would see bursaries replaced by loans, was launched this week. George Osbourne claims the controversial proposals will create 10,000 additional nurse training places by the end of the current parliament. But that’s only if prospective student nurses aren’t put off by the prospect of £50,000 of debt at the end of their course.

Nursing Times exclusively revealed this week that nurse expertise could soon be nothing more than a fond memory at the Department of Health. Plans to cut 700 jobs in the department include the removal of posts that give a nursing voice to policies affecting the profession. “Losing one DH nurse could have an impact on ensuring the voice of nursing is heard loudly and clearly in central government,” said Gail Adams, head of nursing at Unison.

The Francis report continues to have a ripple effect throughout healthcare. In response to a recommendation made by the report in 2015, the first national whistleblowing policy has been published for the health service in England. The document is intended to ensure all NHS organisations support and encourage staff to raise concerns, including appointing a local champion for whistleblowers.

A study by researchers from Oxford University has found the overall workload in general practice has increased by 16% over the past seven years, with GPs bearing the brunt. The finding has prompted some experts to call for a move away from a “doctor-centric” model of primary care to one where more work is shared with other professionals like nurses. “We don’t need GPs on 100k a year to carry out much of the minor issues they see in the surgery,” commented one NT reader.

Is childhood asthma over-diagnosed? UK respiratory experts argue inhalers are frequently dispensed for no good reason to the point where they have “almost become a fashion accessory”. They called for better testing in primary care to distinguish whether young patients really had the condition or not.

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