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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 August and early September 2017? Catch up with our summary of the main nursing headlines.


Drop in students with place remains at 6%, despite clearing


Source: buket bariskan

Universities in England have continued to fill fewer places on their nursing courses this year compared with the same point in 2016, the latest official data has revealed.

Figures released on 1 September by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) show 19,670 people from England had been placed on an undergraduate nursing programme starting from this autumn.

This represents a 6% drop compared with the same time last year, when 20,880 applicants had been placed. In addition, the number of people aged over 25 who were placed continued to be lower than last year – by 12%.

This is the first year new student nurses will no longer receive bursaries and will instead have to take out loans to cover tuition fees and living costs.

Unions have said the UCAS figures cast doubt on the government’s expectation that the number of healthcare students would increase by 10,000 by 2020, calling for “transparency” over how it intended to monitor a boost to trainee numbers.

Earlier in August, the government announced tens of thousands of pounds would be made available for extra placements in a bid to increase the number of trainee nurses, midwives and AHPs this year.

The latest figures represent the last point at which UCAS will report on how quickly nursing courses are being filled now that they have entered the clearing process.

Meanwhile, Nursing Times revealed the universities that have scored the best and worst for overall satisfaction in a survey of student nurses. The two best scoring were the University of Edinburgh and Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, while the lowest was the University of Southampton.


Tributes paid to well-respected chief nurse

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust

Tribute paid to well-respected Birmingham trust’s chief nurse

Philip Norman

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust paid tribute to its “incredible” chief nurse Philip Norman last month, after he “unexpectedly passed away”. He had served as executive chief nurse for nearly four years, having previously held senior roles at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust.


CNO to lead London on interim basis


Chief nursing officer for England Professor Jane Cummings is to take charge of NHS England’s London region for the foreseeable future from 18 September. She will combine it with being CNO until a permanent regional director is recruited. Meanwhile, Angela Thompson, director of nursing at East and North Hertfordshire Trust, has been made director of nursing and deputy regional chief nurse for NHS Improvement’s London region.


Senior nurses join trusts in the South

Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Frimley Park Hospital

Frimley Park Hospital

Sally Brittain has been appointed director of nursing and quality at Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and will start in October. Kingston’s current nursing director Duncan Burton is leaving to become chief nurse at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust this month. Meanwhile, nearby Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust appointed Sue Tranka as interim chief nurse.


Nine out of 10 largest trusts short of nurses

clipboard admin targets nurse ward

More than nine in 10 of the 50 largest NHS hospital trusts in England are not staffed with nurses to the level planned by their own management, warned the Royal College of Nursing, following analysis of data published by NHS Choices. It found 91% of the trusts failed to have the number of nurses they had planned to have on wards, during the day, across 150 individual hospital sites.


Nosy NHS staff warned not to illegally access patient data

Computer data

Computer data

NHS staff were warned about the potentially serious consequences of prying into patient records without a valid reason, following a case involving a healthcare assistant. The former HCA was ordered to pay £1,715 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to unlawfully obtaining and unlawfully disclosing personal data from Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, noted the Information Commissioner’s Office.


NHS body backs digital skills campaign



NHS Digital has held an “e-nurses” week of online events and discussions about how the nursing profession’s use of technology and digital information is changing patient care. It also pledged to support the Royal College of Nursing’s “Every nurse an e-nurse” campaign.


Case reveals ‘urgent need to define nursing’

Supreme Court

Supreme Court

Source: Duncan Leslie

Supreme Court

A court case involving a dispute over care home payments between local councils and the NHS has exposed a serious lack of understanding about the definition of nursing, a leading nurse told Nursing Times. Dame June Clark, former president of the Royal College of Nursing, said the four-year case, which ended last month, had shown health boards in Wales wrongly believed personal care was not a part of nursing. She warned that if the profession allowed the “concept of basic nursing care to be taken out of the concept of nursing… we diminish our whole underpinning of the role”. She the lack of a clear definition needed to be addressed immediately.


Centenary of WW1 Passchendaele nurse

World War One

Ceremonies mark centenary of WWI nurse killed at Passchendaele

Nellie Spindler

Ceremonies were held in Yorkshire to mark 100 years since the death of Nellie Spindler, a British nurse killed during the First World War. Ms Spindler was killed during the Third Battle of Ypres – better known as Passchendaele – shortly after 11am on 21 August 1917. She was one of two female British casualties killed and buried in Belgium during the war. The other was also a nurse, sister Elsie Mabel Gladstone. Both served with the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service.


Specialist nurses feel ‘ignored’ by colleagues

Doctors meeting

Doctors meeting

The opinions and concerns of specialist nurses working in multi-disciplinary team teams are not being listened to, suggested a study, with potentially damaging effects for patient care. The survey of 285 prostate cancer specialist nurses revealed variable and often negative experiences. Only 34% felt they could constructively challenge all team members in meetings, with some describing such gatherings as “intimidating”.


Hundreds more nursing posts planned by Scotland’s health boards


Scottish politicians compete for votes with nursing pledges

Scotland’s flag the Saltire

NHS health boards in Scotland are planning to increase their nursing and midwifery workforce by 594 posts this year, according to official projections. The overall 1% boost is expected to see the number of whole-time equivalent nursing and midwifery jobs rise from 59,650 at the end of March 2017 to 60,244 a year later.


Study prompts fresh staffing warning

Busy hospital

Busy hospital

Missed care is the reason why hospitals with lower registered nursing staff levels have a higher risk of patient death, revealed research published in full for the first time, sparking calls for more to be done to improve staffing levels. Those behind the findings said care left undone due to lack of time was the “missing link” in understanding variation in mortality rates in hospitals, as reported earlier this year by Nursing Times when the interim findings were revealed.


Complaints ‘damaging’ to frontline staff

nurse tired stress twelve hour shift one use

nurse tired stress twelve hour shift one use

The majority of healthcare professionals view complaints from patients as damaging to themselves and their wider relationships with those they provide care for, revealed research by King’s College London. It found that receiving complaints left NHS staff with what they described as feelings of “devastation”, “awful shame”, “shock” and “incomprehension”.


Respiratory nurses face workforce issues

Respiratory nurses COPD

Respiratory nurses COPD

Many respiratory nursing teams across the NHS are short-staffed with around half of nurses reporting they are unable to spend as much time with patients as needed, according to the British Thoracic Society. It found 91% of respiratory nurses worked additional unpaid hours every week, with some working more than 12 extra hours. Meanwhile, more than half were planning, or eligible, to retire in the next decade.


Donation refused from men dressed as nurses

Shoreshire Community NHS Trust

Trust refuses donation from ‘men dressed as nurses’

Pictures of the fundraisers in their outfits were published on social media

Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust refused a £2,500 donation from a group of men who had raised the money while dressed as nurses. An event organised by charity, League of Friends of Ludlow Hospital, saw men dress up as female nurses and push a hospital bed around the Shropshire town. The trust labelled the move sexualised, demeaning and insulting to the nursing profession. But its decision and the activity of the fundraisers divided opinion among nurses on social media sites.


Nurses team up with designers on new hospital jug

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

Nurses work with designers on new hospital water jug

Karen Draper and Tom Lewis

Nursing staff at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust have teamed up with local designers to tackle the common problem of poorly designed water jugs. Patient support worker Karen Draper and Nottingham Trent University student Tom Lewis have created a prototype that it is easy to lift, hard to knock over, has a well-fitting lid and features fluid measurements. Mr Lewis now hopes to work with a manufacturer to improve the design and market it.






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