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Weekly news summary: 8 October 2016

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The top nurse at the recently created regulator NHS Improvement has said staffing is the primary focus in her new role. Speaking recently to an audience of community nurses she said workforce pressure was the “biggest challenge” in their setting and that the regulator would be introducing a range of initiatives to support staff, in particular to encourage more leadership development.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has been urged to focus on retention of staff, including nurses, by the Royal College of Nursing following his speech at the Conservative Party conference where he revealed plans to train more “home-grown” doctors.

A petition to end the government-imposed nursing pay rise cap of 1% has received more than 10,000 signatures in the first few days since it was launched. Set up by nurse and activist Danielle Tiplady – who also spoke out as a student against the government’s plans to remove bursaries – the petition could lead to a debate in Westminster if it attracts 100,000 names.

Hospitals should “exercise caution” when using nursing assistants either in addition to the required number of registered nurses or in place of them, because of the potential negative impact on care, according to a new study in Australia.

A national programme to increase nurse productivity on wards has mainly resulted in improvements to the ward environment rather than increases in the amount of time nursing staff spend with patients, early findings from a study have suggested. The research by King’s College London and Southampton University also revealed most NHS trusts had stopped using the “productive ward” programme in its original form and instead were using adapted versions.

A new certification and registration scheme for primary care nurses who perform spirometry is to be introduced over the next five years. The voluntary scheme, endorsed by NHS England, aims to introduce an element of control for the first time on the main investigation used for diagnosing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and also routinely asthma.

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