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Weekly news summary: 7 January 2017

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Demand from healthcare assistants wanting to train as nursing associates has been “fantastic”, according to the head of the workforce body leading the introduction of the new role.

Health Education England’s chief executive Ian Cumming also praised the quality of applications and said the new position – designed to sit between HCAs and nurses – was being viewed by support staff as an opportunity to further their careers.

Meanwhile, Mr Cumming has also suggested that once nursing associates have become established, the workforce body would look at introducing a similar bridging role that combines nursing and therapy skills. He said employers had previously said they wanted a new degree-trained “nurse therapist” post, and suggested there might now be the possibility to create this position at an associate level between healthcare assistants and nurses.

Mr Cumming’s comments were made at HEE’s latest board meeting in December, where the body also revealed training places for pre-registration nursing and midwifery courses were expected to be filled in 2016-17 – the final year people will receive bursaries. However problems with filling post-registration community nursing courses have continued this academic year, prompting HEE to review the model of training and commissioning for health visitors, school and district nurses. Up until September, 25% fewer students than planned had been recruited to health visiting courses for the autumn. Projections show 22% of school nursing places are expected to be empty by the end of the year, along with 17% of district nursing places. 

A study at a large acute trust in England has found patient care information is often being recorded by nurses in an “inaccurate, inconsistent, repetitive and incomplete” way, leading to potential safety concerns. Researchers, who interviewed eight nurses at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust on older patient wards, said the problems were partly caused by the amount of paperwork. They said the current system of documentation for older patients in acute settings should be “extensively revised” to reduce the level of paperwork required.

The Royal College of Nursing has this week called for better access to animals for patients who may benefit from the contact. It said the majority of nurses supported the use of animal therapy to benefit patients across a range of healthcare challenges, including mental health, learning disabilities and public health.

Meanwhile, West Berkshire Council has announced it will take over a local care home, with the aim of using part of it to expand rehabilitation capacity and speed up hospital discharge. From June, the council will not renew the contract with current provider Care UK and instead will run Birchwood Care Home by using 10 of its 60 beds for rehabilitation care.

Finally, this week saw a raft of nurses included in the 2017 New Year honours. Among those recognised were Professor Caroline Leigh Watkins, an expert in stroke and older people’s care at Central Lancashire University, and Professor Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu, who helped set up the Mary Seacole Statue Appeal. Both have both been made dames.

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