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Round-up of last month’s main workforce and policy news affecting UK nurses

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Miss any of the news affecting the profession during April 2018? Catch up with our summary of the main nursing headlines.


Drop in EU nurses continues, driving NMC register decline

Eu flag

Eu flag

The fall in the number of nurses and midwives registered to practise in the UK is continuing to fall, with new figures showing the Nursing and Midwifery Councils register has shrunk by around 500 over the past 12 months.

“The number of people from the EU leaving our register remains a major concern”

Jackie Smith

Data published on 25 April shows at the end of March 2018 there were 690,278 nurses and midwives on the register, which is 495 fewer than in March 2017. Brexit and problems with staffing levels were cited as key reasons by nurses for leaving the register.

However, the drop is not as great as it was during the year before, largely because of an increase in the number of UK nurses and midwives joining the register.

NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said: “It’s good to see the numbers from the UK stabilise, but if we look at the pattern over the last few years, it’s a decline. The number of people from the EU leaving our register remains a major concern.”

Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies said the figures showed efforts to boost nurse staffing were being “dragged down by a botched Brexit”. “Starting to stem the loss of British nurses is welcome but the real battle is to inspire young people to join the profession,” she added.

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: “The small rise in the number of home-grown nurses provides the faintest glimmer of hope, but it’s still way short of what’s needed to provide the care required.”


UK government does deal with Jamaica to recruit nurses for NHS



Nurses from Jamaica are to be targeted as potential NHS recruits in the government’s latest attempt to mitigate the UK’s nursing shortage. A new partnership will see the nurses work in the NHS for three years to gain skills and experience to take back to Jamaica, under an extension of the “earn, learn and return” scheme that has already seen Indian nurses come to work for the NHS.


Union members begin voting on NHS pay deal proposals 

Online vote

In 2013 Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS FT drafted a revised set of Model rules to allow online votes in Council of Governor elections. The implementation of these new election rules is imminent and the changes will have significance for all FT hospital

Members of Unison, Unite, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives have begun voting on whether to accept the pay deal put forward on 21 March by unions, the NHS and government. The deal would mean at least a 6.5% increase for most staff in England over three years, plus incremental hikes for some.


Measures unveiled to aid student nurses affected by loans error


Department for Education

Department for Education

Ministers have outlined “short-term” measures to help student nurses affected by a mistake that has left hundreds potentially at financial risk. The government said students affected by the Student Loans Company’s overpayment error could apply for additional payments of up to £1,000 and that a deferred re-payment scheme had also been set up.


Winners of the 2018 Student Nursing Times Awards revealed

Student Nursing Times Awards 2018

Student Nursing Times Awards 2018

Nursing Times celebrated outstanding student nurses and their educators last month at a glittering ceremony in London. The winners of the 2018 Student Nursing Times Awards were announced on 26 April.


Welsh ministers pledge student bursary will continue during 2019


Starting gun fired on nurse pay and contract change talks

Student nurses and midwives in Wales will continue to receive a bursary in 2019, the country’s government has confirmed. Since the autumn, new funding arrangements have meant students are eligible for the bursary if they commit to work in the Welsh NHS for two years after qualifying.


Exclusive: Two-year nurse apprenticeship launched in Essex

university of essex updated pic

university of essex updated pic


Essex University

Four trusts have joined forces with a university to launch one of the UK’s first two-year registered nurse apprenticeship programmes. The new course is run by Essex University with Mid-Essex Hospital Services Trust, Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust, Southend University Hospital Foundation Trust, and Basildon and Thurrock Hospitals Foundation Trust.


New nursing school opens with pre-registration course

nursing school doncaster

nursing school doncaster

A new school of nursing was opened last month by private higher education provider BPP University, following the launch in September of its first pre-registration courses. It is based at Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber Foundation Trust.


NMC asks for views on plans for nursing associate regulation

healthcare workers

healthcare workers

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has launched a consultation on draft proposals for standards of proficiency and regulation of the new nursing associate role. It will run from today until 2 July.


Private hospital group launches nursing associate apprenticeships

180420 nursing associates cygnet group

180420 nursing associates cygnet group

A group of 21 apprentice nursing associates has begun training at a private mental healthcare provider. Cygnet Health Care has launched a two-year nursing associate foundation degree apprenticeships with the University of Wolverhampton.


Nurses urged to join national challenge to ‘end PJ paralysis’

NHS England

CNO: EU nurses will need support during Brexit uncertainty

Jane Cummings

A major national campaign is underway to get NHS staff to encourage patients to change from their pyjamas into clothes and get up and moving around. Chief nursing office for England Professor Jane Cummings has called on health and care providers to support the #EndPJparalysis challenge, which is set to run until 26 June.


NMC referral can spark suicidal thoughts in nurses, finds survey

Mental health depression

A survey by a group campaigning for improved support for nurses going through fitness to practise procedures has shed light on the mental health burden of being referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Its survey of about 40 nurses found 60% reported their mental health was the aspect of their life most affected.


Nurses warned about dermatitis risk from over-use of gloves

Surgical gloves

Out of the annual £20.6bn of non-pay expenditure, £4.5bn accounts for clinical supplies and services

Inappropriate use of gloves increases nurses’ risk of dermatitis and may even exacerbate staffing shortages, says new in-depth guidance launched by the Royal College of Nursing. The resource has been published as part of the RCN’s very first ever Glove Awareness Week.


Blackpool trust to up health visitor contacts from five to eight in first



Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust believes it is the first place in England to increase the number of home visits from health visitors from the statutory five to at least eight. Its newly-designed health visiting service will mean all families with new babies get eight home visits from before birth to the age of three.


Stretched HCAs doing nurse tasks ‘without training or supervision’

healthcare workers

healthcare workers

Healthcare assistants are being expected to do the work of registered nurses without adequate training or proper supervision, according to survey results released by Unison to coincide with its annual health conference. Of the 2,000 HCAs surveyed, 63% reported being left to care for patients without enough support from clinicians, while 39% did not feel confident that patients were safe.


Two nurses to help develop ‘new generation of NHS digital tools’

push button technology switch innovation choice

push button technology switch innovation choice

Two nurses have been chosen by NHS Digital to help boost the use of technology. Joan Pons Laplana, a transformation nurse from James Paget University Hospitals Foundation Trust, and Anthony Kenny, a specialist sexual health nurse at King’s College Hospital Trust, will spend a year working as “clinical informatics fellows”.


Game of Thrones’ queen of dragons becomes RCN ambassador

Royal College of Nursing

Emilia Clarke

Source: Gage Skidmore

Emilia Clarke in 2013

Game of Thrones actor Emilia Clarke has been announced as the Royal College of Nursing’s ambassador. Her first move involves raising funds for specialist nursing via an auction to spend a day with her on the set of the hit show in which she plays Daenerys Targaryen, the “queen of dragons”.


Nurses from children’s charity chosen to attend royal wedding

Round Tower

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

Five children’s nurses from across the UK will be attending the royal wedding this month representing the charity WellChild. Aileen Crichton, Elaine O’Brien, Jodie Hiscutt, Rhian Greenslade, and Vicky Amiss-Smith will be among the guests at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s ceremony on 19 May.


Infection prevention specialist nurse named ‘flu fighter champion’

Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust

Joanne Reynard

Joanne Reynard (centre)

An infection prevention specialist nurse from Yorkshire has been given a national award for her work to encourage flu vaccination among staff ahead of last winter. Joanne Reynard, from Leeds Community Healthcare Trust, was named “flu fighter champion” at the annual Flu Fighter Awards, run by NHS Employers and supported by Nursing Times.


Nursing home tries to tempt nurses with offer of free holiday



A nursing home in Scarborough is trying to lure nurses to work there with the offer of a free holiday in the sun before they start. Managers at Saint Cecilia’s Nursing Home said they hoped the offer would help their setting “stand out” amid the national nurse recruitment crisis.


Rediscovered photo archive gives insight into nursing before NHS

History of nursing

Rediscovered photo archive gives insight into nursing before NHS

Source: Historic England Archive

A nurse measuring medicine from an open trolley in a ward at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in September 1939

Thousands of images of nurses delivering care before the NHS came into being have been made available to the public online to mark 70 years of the service. The photographs were recently discovered in the Historic England Archive. Pictured is a nurse measuring medicine from an open medicine trolley in a ward at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London in September 1939.


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