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


Health Education England cuts put nurse CPD training at risk

scissors budget cuts

Continuing professional development training is at risk of being reduced further this year due to a national funding cut of 20% by Health Education England.

HEE has confirmed its budget for “workforce development” – which is largely used for CPD for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals – will be slashed from £104.3m to £83.49m in 2017-18.

“Universities can hold their nerve for a period of time, but not forever”

Katerina Kolyva

This is the second consecutive year HEE has reduced this type of funding. In 2016-17, the budget was almost halved from £205m the year before, sparking an outcry from universities claiming the move would see patient care suffer.

It is unclear how far HEE’s local branches will now reduce their CPD funding to universities and NHS trusts this year.

Nursing Times has learnt of at least two regions where reductions are being passed on. At one NHS trust in HEE’s London/Kent/Surrey/Sussex area CPD funding has been reduced by 30% for this year, following a 40% cut in 2016-17.

A nurse at the organisation, who asked not to be named, described the level of the cuts over the last year as “unprecedented” and “seriously compromising our ability to support our staff effectively in delivering patient care”.

“In addition, the pace of reductions and the lack of communication across the system has not enabled us to begin to manage and develop sustainable solutions for the future,” they said.


Nursing and Midwifery Council

Katerina Kolyva

In HEE’s North of England area, another academic told Nursing Times that CPD funding for universities this year had been “essentially cut completely apart from some small sums for the region’s priority areas of mentorship and non-medical prescribing”. It also followed a 40% reduction last year.

The Council of Deans of Health has again raised concerns. Its executive director Dr Katerina Kolyva said: “Universities can hold their nerve for a period of time, but not forever. If reductions continue and there aren’t alternative local arrangements, the pressure on universities will perhaps be to review courses.”

But a spokeswoman for HEE said the government arm’s-length body had never had a specific funding pot for CPD for the NHS workforce.

“Our workforce development fund covers a broad range of investment based on local NHS priorities,” she said. “We will continue to invest in strategic workforce development in line with key service priorities, like cancer and mental health, to make sure that we have a workforce better equipped to deliver care now and in the future.”


Bursaries for students come to an end


The scrapping of bursaries for trainee nurses, midwives and allied health professionals in England came into force on 1 August, marking the end of free university education for healthcare students. New students will have to take out a loan to cover their tuition fees and day-to-day costs, under the controversial policy that was first unveiled by ministers around 18 months ago.


Nursing applications remain down by 23%

Financial spreadsheets

Financial spreadsheets

The number of people in England applying to train as a nurse at university continues to be down by 23% this year after the removal of bursaries, according to latest data released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). It showed that, by the deadline of 30 June, 40,060 people included nursing as one of their course choices, down from 51,840 at the same point last year.


Whistleblower will ‘keep on fighting


A nurse whistleblower who unsuccessfully took the Nursing and Midwifery Council to court has been left facing a bill of £15,000. Vasanta Suddock, a former matron and care home manager, had claimed her career was “ruined” by the NMC’s handling of a previous fitness to practise case against her. Ms Suddock said she planned to “keep on fighting” and wanted to challenge wider defamation laws that apply to all professional regulators.


NMC reforms to speed up fitness to practise

NMC building

Legal changes that came into force last month allow the Nursing and Midwifery Council to issue public warnings to registrants who have breached professional standards. Other new options include agreeing restrictions of practice with registrants – called undertakings. The reforms should mean the NMC only has to take the most serious cases through to a full hearing.


Language testing could change this year


English language testing changes could be brought in as early as the end of 2017 to help speed up recruitment of overseas nurses, if the Nursing and Midwifery Council backs the idea, according to a letter seen by Nursing Times. It follows concerns about the difficulty of the International English Language Testing System. The NMC has yet to decide whether it should change or replace the exam, but has committed to exploring the issue further.


Government pledges 4,600 crisis care posts

Mental health

Mental health

At least 4,600 extra crisis care nurses are to be created as part of a major workforce plan announced by the government to improve mental health services. Ministers pledged a total of 21,000 additional mental health posts and said there would be a focus on services with projected shortfalls due increasing demand, highlighting crisis care and child and adolescent mental health services.


Scotland’s CNO sets out vision for nursing

Scottish government

Scotland’s CNO lays out national vision for nursing to 2030

Fiona McQueen

Nurses increasingly managing entire episodes of care and working across different settings are among the ambitions in a new vision for the profession in Scotland over the next decade. Drawn up by the country’s chief nursing officer, Professor Fiona McQueen, it covers three key themes – personalising care, preparing nurses for future needs and roles, and supporting nurses.


Nursing must confront its weight problem

healthcare workers

healthcare workers

Patients are less likely to accept healthy lifestyle advice from an overweight clinician, according to research by a former mental health nurse who says it is time to be more honest about the taboo topic. Psychology graduate Helen McDowall found people were less likely to believe statements on healthy eating made by an overweight nurse and more likely to believe one who was thinner.


Care home study to find optimal staffing

care home


Nurse academics have begun what is believed to be the first major UK study to look at the relationship between staffing and care quality in both residential and nursing homes. They will investigate skill mix variations to identify optimal staffing levels and help shape workforce planning across the country.


GOSH staff facing ‘tide of hostility’

Great Ormond Street

Great Ormond Street

Great Ormond Street

Nurses and doctors at the famous London hospital embroiled in the Charlie Gard case faced a “shocking and disgraceful tide of hostility and disturbance” last month. Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children Trust issued a statement on 22 July warning that it would do “everything possible to hold to account” those involved in such “deplorable behaviour”.


Campaign for car parking charge nurses

University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff

Sister says working A&E night shift is more stressful than war zone

University Hospital of Wales

A fundraising campaign has been launched to support a possible appeal against a court ruling that has left nursing staff in Cardiff facing hefty bills in unpaid car parking tickets. A court ruling on 14 July means around 75 members of staff at the University Hospital of Wales owe thousands of pounds, after they unsuccessfully challenged the company that runs their employer’s car parks.


University of Dundee announces new dean

University of Dundee

Dundee University announces new dean of nursing

Lynn Kilbride

The University of Dundee has appointed Professor Lynn Kilbride as its new dean of nursing and health sciences, succeeding Professor Margaret Smith. Currently head of nursing and community health at Glasgow Caledonian University, she will take up her new post in the autumn.


Suffolk trust introduces deteriorating patient nursing role

Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust

Suffolk trust introduces deteriorating patient nursing role

Lucy Butler and Manju Markose

A trust in Suffolk has introduced a dedicated role to provide its nursing staff with more support to identify patients who develop sepsis and acute kidney injury. Lucy Butler and Manju Markose have been appointed by Ipswich Hospital Trust as clinical nurse specialists for deteriorating patients.


Tram named after Nottingham trust’s nurse of the year

Nottingham University/Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

Nottingham nurse of the year unveils tram named after her

Christina O’Loughlin

Student nurse Christina O’Loughlin has had a tram named after her for the next 12 months in recognition of being voted Nottingham University Hospitals Trust’s “nurse of the year” for 2017. Ms O’Loughlin was initially nominated in one award category by the parents of a child she cared for but went on to be chosen by the public for the overall title. “I am so grateful that a family took the time to nominate me whilst their child was in hospital and that the public took the time to vote for me,” she said. The awards are run in partnership with tram operator Nottingham Express Transit.



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