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Weekly news summary: 28 January 2017

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Figures shared with Nursing Times indicate that the Brexit vote may have started to significantly affect the pipeline of overseas nurses coming to work in the UK from the European Union. 

They show the number of EU nurses admitted to the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s register crashed from 1,304 in July to only 100 joining in December. “This is the first time in years that we have seen a drop-off,” said NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith.

Research published in Nursing Times has revealed that abuse of older people in care homes is continuing to occur. The study found more than 88% of the 156 staff surveyed had witnessed or suspected abuse in nursing homes where they had previously worked. Psychological abuse was the most common type staff reported seeing, followed by neglect and then physical abuse.

In the latest development on nursing associates, the Nursing and Midwifery Council last week agreed to formerly regulate the new role. On Wednesday, NMC council members discussed the risks and benefits of the body regulating nursing associates before agreeing to a request to do so made by ministers in November. However, the NMC added that it would need the government to pay £4m in set up costs. In an interview with Nursing Times, NMC chief executive Jackie Smith said the decision should give nurses “a great deal more assurance” when they delegate tasks to nursing associates, as the body would in future set training standards for the new role.

Meanwhile, it has been announced that MPs will debate the 1% cap on pay rises for NHS nurses on Monday, in response to a successful petition from nursing campaigners, which recently passed the 100,000 target it needed to be considered it as a topic for discussion in parliament.

North of the border, ministers pledged that the student nurse bursary will be “protected” in Scotland, while also announcing an expansion in course places and financial support for students with children. But the announcement was met with a lukewarm response from unions, which described the rise in places as “modest” and the support package as a “step in the right direction”.

A major report warned on Thursday that health visiting and school nursing services “must be preserved” if the UK was to make strides in improving children’s health. Cuts to public health budgets were disproportionately affecting children’s services and putting vital early intervention at risk, said the report from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. The Institute of Health Visiting described the findings as “very worrying and upsetting”.

At the other end of the age spectrum, older people coming into contact with nurses and other health professionals should be asked “routinely” about falls, according to a joint initiative involving Public Health England and the Royal College of Nursing. A consensus statement was published last week outlining actions that can be taken to help prevent older people having falls and fractures.

Specialist nurse Jonathon Britton from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has been credited with administering lifesaving thrombolysis treatment in just 12 minutes, beating the national average by 40 minutes. Alastair Bailey, the trust’s lead nurse for stroke, said it was an “amazing achievement”.

A Facebook post written by a student nurse, which defended the vital role of healthcare assistants, went viral last week. Charmaine Briggs from Somerset used the social media site to vent her feelings after a stranger belittled the role of healthcare support workers. She wrote that no one should be considered “just” an HCA and that all staff were reliant on each other.

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