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This week's news summary...

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Would increasing wages improve retention of nurses? The Migratory Advisory Committee has criticised employers for failing to adequately explore this question. The MAC strongly criticised national workforce planning and a failure by both the health and care sectors to look at how pay could be used to attract and retain nurses to the profession.

The MAC may sound familiar. The same committee “reluctantly” recommended that nursing remain on the shortage occupation list last week, explaining that removal risks a nursing shortage but that other workforce planning strategies would be more beneficial. In its latest report, the committee has raised concerns that the new English language test, brought in in January, may accentuate a nursing shortage as there remains too much reliance on recruiting from overseas.

Staffing levels are also the subject of a key recommendation in a Queen’s Nursing Institute report released this week. As Nursing Times reported last year, the QNI survey puts forward suggestions aimed at improving staffing levels and skill mixes to support weekend discharges. Poor communication and lack of co-ordination between services were also identified as key issues hampering smooth discharge.

In Northern Ireland a 15% increase in pre-registration training places may go some way to address issues of understaffing, while health boards in Wales are taking steps to reduce over-reliance on agency staff. A major NHS workforce review has recommended the creation of an “all-Wales nursing bank”.

Meanwhile, a major audit by the Royal College of Physicians revealed “steady progress” in improvements to care provided to dying people, since the official withdrawal of the Liverpool Care Pathway in 2014. Although room for improvement was identified, the audit found documented improvements in recognition that patients were dying and received holistic care assessments, communication with patients, symptom control, and commitment to staff education and training.

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