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Round-up of February 2019’s main workforce and policy news affecting UK nurses

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Miss any of the news affecting the profession during February 2019? Catch up with our summary of the main nursing headlines.


Study reveals gender pay ‘disparity’ among nursing workforce


Men in the nursing workforce have an advantage in terms of pay, because they are over-represented at senior bands compared to their overall proportion to the UK nursing population, according to a new study.

With just 11.3% nurses in England being male, the research revealed a “disparity” in terms of access to higher pay between the genders and the proportion of those at higher pay against the population.

The research, published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies, also found that men have an advantage in terms of faster attainment of higher grades from the point of their registration.

In an interview with Nursing Times, study author Professor Alison Leary said her team “weren’t entirely surprised” with what they uncovered after collecting and analysing national workforce datasets from across the UK.

Their study paper noted that, despite the gendered occupation that nursing is, the advantage of men in terms of pay was apparent. It found that, for specialist and advanced practice nurses, it appeared that men were able to achieve a higher paid role faster than women do.

The researchers warned that “if this disparity in pay and opportunity is not addressed, inequality will continue to be present”.

For all four countries in the UK, the study found a lower proportion of nurses who are male at Agenda for Change pay band 5 – the lowest pay band for registered nurses – in comparison to the overall proportion of male registered nurses in each country.


RCN members embark on grassroots safe staffing campaign

safe staffing

safe staffing

Source: Gareth Harmer

RCN members planning safe staffing campaign

The Royal College of Nursing has launched a grassroots campaign to get safe staffing enshrined in law in England. “We are nurses and we can do this” was the call from RCN president Anne Marie Rafferty, as members launched the campaign last month against dangerous understaffing.


College chief warns of ‘nurses on Zimmer frames’ after Brexit

Royal College of Nursing

Leading nurse becomes patient safety charity patron

Source: Kate Stanworth

Donna Kinnair

Care will be given by nurses on Zimmer frames if the retirement age is raised following Brexit, Dame Donna Kinnair, the Royal College of Nursing’s acting chief executive, has warned a committee scrutinising a bill to end free movement in the UK for those from other European Union countries.


Nurse degree applications rise 4% but concerns remain

Nursing student

Student nurse

Applications to study nursing in England have increased slightly from last year but are still down 30% since student bursaries were scrapped, latest figures reveal. Official data shows 30,650 people had applied to an undergraduate degree nurse course in the country by the January 2019 deadline, a 4% rise from 29,390 at the same point in 2018.


HEE hits target of training 7,000 nursing associates

University of Salford

Nursing associates

Source: University of Salford

Ambitious targets to get 7,000 nursing associates into training in the first two years have been met, according to Health Education England. The body confirmed that 5,000 people had enrolled in a nursing associate apprenticeship in 2018, building on the 2,000 who started in 2017.


District nurse apprenticeship standard given green light

district nurse three

district nurse three

Source: Kate Stanworth

Plans to create an apprenticeship route into district nursing in England have moved a significant step forward. An apprenticeship standard has been approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education subject to one amendment. It will now need to go through an end point assessment. The final green light is expected later this year, with delivery from September 2020.


Topol review highlights staff training need for digital revolution


Student nurses ‘going digital’ with obs technology training

A landmark report has highlighted that the potential of technology to revolutionise the NHS will only be realised though investment in staff training. The independent Topol Review outlined how digital interventions such as genomics, artificial intelligence and robotics can improve patient care.


Mandatory learning disability training on cards for all nurses

Learning disabilities

Learning disability

The government has begun a consultation on plans to introduce mandatory learning disabilities and autism training for all nurses in England. It said increasing awareness and supporting staff to reasonably adjust care to suit patient needs would “improve experiences and potentially save lives”.


Hancock pledges to overhaul mental health support for NHS staff

nurse stress


Health secretary Matt Hancock has pledged to overhaul mental health support for nurses and other care staff, after a report laid bare the “emotional labour” of working in the NHS. Commissioned by the government and written by Health Education England, the NHS Staff and Learners’ Mental Wellbeing Commission report made 33 recommendations.


Spotlight on mental health nursing for inaugural awareness day

Mental health

Mental health

The first ever Mental Health Nurses’ Day was held on 21 February. It was organised by the Royal College of Nursing’s Mental Health Forum in a bid to debunk outdated and dark portrayals of mental health nursing.


Bid to boost Welsh mental health nurses’ career development

Team meeting multidisciplinary working

Team meeting multidisciplinary working

Nurse leaders in Wales have called for all mental health nurses to be supported to develop leadership skills and receive effective and continuous professional development. The All Wales Senior Nurse Advisory Group has produced a framework for mental health nursing in Wales.


RCN in Wales announces appointment of new director

Royal College of Nursing Wales/RCN Wales

Helen Whyley

Helen Whyley

The Royal College of Nursing in Wales has appointed Helen Whyley as its new director. She took up the post on an interim basis on 2 November 2018, following the retirement of Tina Donnelly.


Nursing staff at children’s hospital to get NHS rainbow badges

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Rainbow NHS badge

Evelina London Children’s Hospital has introduced NHS rainbow badges for staff to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) patients. The scheme at the hospital, part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust, is being rolled out following a successful pilot launched in October.


Nursing chief at maternity probe trust announces departure

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust

Trust told to improve staffing and safety in maternity units

Source: John Firth

Royal Shrewsbury Hospital

Deirdre Fowler has announced her departure as director of nursing and midwifery at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust, which is under investigation for mother and baby deaths. A trust spokesman said she was taking a job closer to home and her resignation was not related to the maternity investigation. Ms Fowler is joining Bedford Hospital Trust as director of nursing.


London trust boosts support for staff with premature babies

employer with heart

employer with heart

Ben Morrin and Laura Churchward

University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust has pledged to boost support for nurses and other staff whose babies are born prematurely or sick. It is the first trust in the city and one of only three across the UK to gain the Employer with Heart accreditation from charity The Smallest Things.


Practice nurses called on to adopt standards for end of life care

Primary care

General practice

GP surgeries can now display a “daffodil mark” as a sign of commitment to improving end of life care, as part of a new partnership between the Royal College of GPs and the charity Marie Curie. The mark, synonymous with the charity, is based on a new set of criteria called the Daffodil Standards.


Maternity and neonatal care receive cash boost in Scotland

baby holding hand

baby holding hand

Maternity and neonatal care in Scotland is set to benefit from a £12m injection, as part of a government drive to transform services that will see a new model for neonatal care tested at four sites.


Former RCN policy lead appointed global nursing body boss

howard catton

howard catton

Howard Catton

UK nurse Howard Catton, a UK nurse and former head of policy and international affairs at the Royal College of Nursing, has been appointed as chief executive of the International Council of Nurses.




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