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

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


NMC register opens to nursing associates for first time today

University of Salford

Nursing associates

Source: University of Salford

The first cohort of nursing associates in training at Salford University

The first qualified nursing associates joined England’s health and care workforce in England on 28 January in a “landmark moment” for the sector.

Those who have completed their training can now register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Andrea Sutcliffe, the new NMC chief executive and registrar, described it as a “landmark moment”.

The role was announced by the government in 2016 and was developed by its arms’-length body Health Education England. HEE launched a pilot in 2017 with 2,000 trainee nursing associates taking on the two-year apprenticeship course across 35 test sites across the country.

The NMC said around 1,800 nursing associates were expected to register over the next few months. The government has a target for 5,000 nursing associates to start training in 2018 and a further 7,500 in 2019.

“It is vital that employers do not attempt to fill any gaps with nursing associates”

Patricia Marquis

The aim of the new role is to bridge the skills gap between healthcare assistants and registered nurses. The role is also designed to create a new route into the registered nursing profession. Unlike healthcare assistants, nursing associates will be regulated, which means, like registered nurses and midwives, they will have to abide by the NMC’s professional code and also revalidate.

Dr Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said nursing associates would play an “essential role” in both patient care and supporting the nursing profession.

But Patricia Marquis, director of the RCN in England, said: “With England facing a clear shortage of registered nurses, it is vital that employers do not attempt to fill any gaps with nursing associates.”


Andrea Sutcliffe in ‘listening mode’ as she takes helm of NMC

Andrea Sutcliffe

Andrea Sutcliffe

Andrea Sutcliffe

The new chief executive and registrar of the nursing and midwifery regulator has vowed to take an “all ears” approach to the high-profile role, and to foster a culture of transparency and learning. Andrea Sutcliffe took the helm of the Nursing and Midwifery Council on 14 January.


Nurse shortage ‘biggest obstacle’ to improving child mental health

child silhouette

child silhouette

Getting the right workforce in place is the “biggest barrier” to the government’s ambitions for children and young people’s mental health services, MPs have warned. The Public Accounts Committee has called for health chiefs to report annually on their progress in expanding the mental health workforce as a result of too many young people not getting the help they need.


Trust pilots GPS devices to improve safety of community nurses


Cornish health visiting services threatened with council cuts

A West Country trust is exploring whether new technology will help to keep its community nurses safer. A tracking app that enables nurses working in isolated areas to call for help more easily is just one of the devices being trialed by Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust.


Charge dropped for EU nurses applying for ‘settled status’


Prime minister Theresa May has scrapped a £65 fee that nurses originating from other European Union countries would have had to pay to secure the right to continue living in the UK after Brexit. The move to waive the £65 settled-status fee for EU nationals was welcomed by the Royal College of Nursing and other bodies representing the NHS.


Report shows BME nurses still stuck at bottom of career ladder

Freedom to Speak Up

Agency staff and BME workers need ‘more support’ to raise concerns

Nurses from black and minority ethnic backgrounds remain “grossly unrepresented” at the top level of the NHS, latest national data has revealed. The Workplace Racial Equality Standard report for 2018 showed nurses from BME backgrounds continued to face greater difficulty in climbing up the career ladder, compared to their white counterparts.


CQC praises nurse for arranging for patient to visit her horse

east surrey hospital main entrance sign

east surrey hospital main entrance sign

East Surrey Hospital

A ward sister has been recognised for going above and beyond her call of duty to help a young patient regain her confidence after falling off a horse. Concerned that the emotional impact of the accident was delaying her recovery, Sandhya Blakey, from Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust, arranged for the patient to visit the horse. Hospital inspectors rated her trust as “outstanding”.


Six healthcare organisations named top employers for LGBT staff

LGBT rainbow flat

LGBT rainbow flat

Central and North West London Foundation Trust has been revealed as the highest placed performer among the health and social care sector in an annual list that recognises the top employers for lesbian, gay, bi and transgender staff. The “Top 100 Employers” list for 2019, created by LGBT charity Stonewall, features six health and social care organisations.


Specialist nurses trained to take over surgical service from doctors

crm linq team

Reveal LINQ

Reveal LINQ team at Southampton

Specialist nurses at a trust in the South of England are now performing a minor surgical procedure formerly led by senior doctors. Cardiac rhythm specialist nurses at University Hospital Southampton Trust have undergone extensive training to implant devices in patients with heart rhythm problems.


‘Powerful duo’ elected to lead RCN council after no-confidence vote

ballot box

ballot box

The ruling council of the Royal College of Nursing has now been fully rebuilt in the wake of a historic vote of no-confidence in the former leadership. Sue Warner and Richard Jones, who between them have eight decades of nursing experience, have been selected as chair and vice chair respectively.


Nearly half of NHS staff say there are not enough staff to be safe

index registered nurse alamy a515 p6

index registered nurse alamy a515 p6

Almost half of NHS nurses and other healthcare workers say there are not enough staff on their shift to ensure patients are treated safely and with compassion, according to a survey by Unison. It examined the attitudes and experiences of healthcare professionals across one day in September.


Pay and PhD requirements ‘stopping’ nurses entering academia


Senior nurses are not considering a career in academia because they will get better pay working for the NHS, according to Professor Brian Webster-Henderson, chair of the Council of Deans of Health. He told Nursing Times that high entry requirements such as needing a PhD were also stopping nurses from stepping into higher education.


Staff at only trust outside Agenda for Change to join national contract

Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Inadequate staffing levels found at Southend trust

Southend Hospital

Nurses and other staff at the only NHS trust in the UK still outside Agenda for Change are finally to be moved over to the national agreement for pay, terms and conditions. Southend University Hospital Foundation Trust, which has operated outside Agenda for Change for more than a decade, said it hoped the move will help it attract and retain staff.


‘Gatekeeper’ nurses stream 60 patients away from A&E in a day

ED Gatekeeper Tracey

ED Gatekeeper Tracey

ED Gatekeeper Tracey Turley

Hospital nurses in Dorset have helped ease pressures on its emergency department this winter via a “streaming” service, a matron working on the initiative has revealed. The service, which places an advanced nurse practitioner as the first port of call within the Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s accident and emergency entrance, has helped to cut waiting times by redirecting patients.


Trust praised for passing ‘ownership’ of assessment unit to nurses

chesterfield royal hospital

chesterfield royal hospital

Chesterfield Royal Hospital

A trust has been praised for cutting unnecessary hospital admissions and easing pressure on medics by putting senior nurses in charge of assessing children and young people. Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission said the initiative at the Chesterfield Royal Hospital Foundation Trust was an example of “outstanding practice”.


Survey indicates lack of nurse awareness of new superbug

Glasgow Caledonian University

Professor Kay Currie

Kay Currie

A third of nurses in Scotland are unaware of the growing threat of a new superbug, according to a survey by researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University. Professor Kay Currie and colleagues issued the warning about the antibiotic-resistant bacteria Carbapenemase Producing Enterobacteriaceae.


Nurses in Ireland prepare to take strike action tomorrow over pay


Copy of Ireland

Members of a major Irish nursing union went on strike on 30 January with possible further walkouts due to take place this month in a protest over low pay. The move is only the second time in the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s 100-year history that members have taken national strike action.


‘Special teddy bears’ to help children with learning disabilities in hospital

medibears filming

medibears filming

A children and young person’s learning disability specialist nurse is pioneering the use of “special teddy bears” to help children and young patients with learning disabilities understand clinical procedures. Fiona Springall has introduced “Medibears” for her young patients at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Foundation Trust.


Liverpool hoping for nurse recruitment boost from BBC’s Hospital

Hospital BBC

Hospital BBC

Source: BBC/Label1/Ryan McNamara

NHS staff featured in season four of the BBC documentary, Hospital. Picture shows: Simon Neequaye, Aidan Kehoe, Fran McNicol, Vincent Hart, Jayapal Ramesh, John Brennan, Caoimhé McNally

The real-life stories of nurses working on the frontline of Liverpool’s busy hospitals have been showcased to the nation in the latest season of the award-winning documentary Hospital. The programme has returned to BBC Two for a fourth series, taking viewers behind the scenes of six hospital trusts in the city.


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