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Weekly news summary: 26 November 2016

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Changes to UK nurse education standards being looked into by the Nursing and Midwifery Council could see students spend less time on placements in the future, according to the regulator’s head of policy.

Dr Geraldine Walters said the NMC would investigate whether more practice hours could be spent on simulation activities instead. She said this could help to take some of the strain off placements — which is set to increase in England in particular due to the introduction of new roles such as nursing associates. Other changes being considered are whether to introduce prescribing into pre-registration courses and the possibility of students receiving more generic training before specialising.

An NHS trust in Great Yarmouth is tackling the increasing pressures on placements by extending a new approach to mentoring - which has doubled the number of students it can take on – to all parts of its organisation. The ’collaborative learning in practice’ model being used by James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust involves a registered nurse working as a coach with a group of students who deliver hands-on care to patients. It replaces the traditional system in which qualified mentors work one-to-one with students.

Nurse peer Baroness Audrey Emerton has underlined concerns this week about the title of nursing associate being used for the forthcoming new support worker role in England. Baroness Emerton, a crossbencher in the House of Lords, said that while she does not disagree with the “general direction of travel” for the role, she believes the use of the word nursing wrongly implies those in the position will be nurses. She suggested associate health carer would be a more appropriate title.

Meanwhile a workforce policy expert has laid out his support for nursing associates, saying it is something to be “cheerful about” because it will provide both a route to becoming a higher-level support worker and also into nursing. “They will not be substituting the role of band 5 nurses but complementing them,” according to Mr Griffin, a specialist on the UK’s unregistered health and social care workforce and former associate director at the Department of Health.

A lack of additional funding for the NHS or social care in Phillip Hammond’s first autumn statement as chancellor has been widely criticised by NHS leaders in England this week who branded it a “missed opportunity”. Unions also voiced their concerns claiming the chancellor had chosen not to take an opportunity to alleviate the current nurse workforce “crisis” after he failed to put an end to pay restraint for NHS workers.

As winter approaches, a trust in Northumbria has announced it will temporarily reduce the opening hours of three of its urgent care centres to redeploy nursing staff to its specialist emergency care hospital over the coming months. Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust will change the opening times of the centres at Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck general hospitals from 24 to 16 hours a night from 1 December.

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