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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 2018? Catch up with our summary of the main nursing headlines.


Inquiry: nurses who raised concerns about painkiller overuse were ignored

Cavendish Square

Royal College of Nursing

The Royal College of Nursing is to commission an independent review into the “governance and process” that has resulted in confusion and anger among nurses over their expected pay rise.

The move was revealed on 27 July by the college with a further apology over the way it communicated the delivery of the NHS pay deal to its members.

Janet Davies, RCN chief executive and general secretary, had earlier personally apologised over concerns the pay deal was not properly explained to members. It followed widespread anger after many discovered they would be getting less in their July wage packets than expected.

All members were told they would get a 3% per pay rise this summer but it subsequently turned out only half would get the rise straight away. The rest will receive an average increase of around 1.5% with more to come on their incremental date – which could be up to 11 months down the line.

“I have personally gone through all of our messages and our understanding of it”

Janet Davies

Ms Davies noted that the pay deal was “incredibly complex due to a reform of the pay structure being carried out at the same time”, making it difficult to give details of what it meant to everyone individually.

“I have personally gone through all of our messages and our understanding of it. I can only apologise for how we interpreted it and how we suggested to you that a 3% rise would be backdated for everyone,” she said.

She said the RCN council had “agreed that an immediate independent external review will look at the governance and process resulting in this situation”. Meanwhile, an emergency general meeting is being arranged after a petition set up by activists was signed by over 1,000 members.


Former charity boss to be interim leader of nursing regulator

nmc building

nmc building

Sue Killen is to be the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s interim chief executive and registrar. Ms Killen, a former senior civil servant and charity boss, joined the NMC on 30 July, replacing Jackie Smith.


NMC rubber stamps changes to fitness to practise procedure


Leaders at the Nursing and Midwifery Council have agreed to introduce a raft of changes in the way it resolves concerns about fitness to practise. They include plans for fewer hearings, more openness and transparency, and moves not to automatically strike people off for certain types of misconduct.


Rise in nurses and midwives joining register from outside EU

Foreign passport

Foreign passport

There has been a recent spike in the number of overseas nurses and midwives from outside of the European Union joining the UK nursing register, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Latest figures show an 86% increase in the number of nurses and midwives joining the register from outside the EU in the past three months.


NMC becomes official regulator for new nursing associate role

nmc building

nmc building

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has become the official regulator for nursing associates, after legislation was agreed by the Privy Council and received royal assent.


Welsh nurses also in line for 6.5% pay rise over three years

Map of Wales


The Welsh government and health unions have agreed a proposed pay increase of 6.5% for NHS staff in Wales for the next three years. If supported by a ballot of union members this month, the new pay deal will begin in the autumn and last until 2020-21.


Non-NHS nurses on Agenda for Change to also get pay rise



The government is extending the new pay deal to nursing staff who are on the Agenda for Change contract and work in organisations that provide service the NHS but that are not actually part of it.


Over 250,000 people sign petition calling for student minimum wage

Nursing student

Student nurse

Source: Jennifer Van Schoor

A petition calling for student nurses to be paid a minimum living wage, following the scrapping of the bursary, has been signed by over 375,000 people since it was set up at the beginning of July. The petition was started on the website by John Worth, a student nurse from Bristol.


Call for water bottles to be allowed on wards during heatwave


Water bottle

Trusts were called to allow nurses to take water bottles onto the wards during the recent heatwave, in order to avoid dehydration. The Royal College of Nursing said many nurses were unable to stay properly hydrated, as some hospitals did not allow water bottles on wards, and there was no time to take breaks due to staffing pressures.


Government reveals response to MPs’ nursing workforce inquiry

Richmond House

Richmond House

Source: Duncan Leslie

Ministers have set out how they intend to respond to a range of challenges facing nursing that were identified by MPs in January after an investigation into the workforce crisis. But nursing leaders warned the government’s response offered “little in the way of solutions”. The Commons health committee had called for greater efforts to expand the nursing workforce and retain existing staff.


New health secretary pledges to ‘fight for’ health and care staff

Matthew Hancock

Matthew Hancock

Matthew Hancock

New Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has pledged to “fight” for health and care staff, and to launch a consultation exercise across a range of workforce issues. Specifically, the exercise will consider issues such as bullying and harassment in the workplace, diversity and how to establish more pathways for nurses and other clinicians into leadership roles. In his first speech in the role last month, Mr Hancock outlined his “admiration for health and care staff”.


Bravery award for nurse murdered in London terror attack

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Updated: Tributes pour in for nurse killed in terror attack

Kirsty Boden

Kirsty Boden, the nurse who was murdered while giving assistance to the victims of the London Bridge terrorist attack on 3 June 2017, has been given a posthumous award for bravery by the Queen. Ms Boden has become a a recipient of the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.


Nurses offer home as competition prize to raise money for charity  

Marty Pumbien and Annie Brown

Nurses offer home as raffle prize to raise money for charity

Marty Pumbien and Annie Brown

A nursing couple is offering their £600,000 home as the prize in a competition to raise money for a ground-breaking dementia project. For just five pounds, anyone in the UK can enter the competition to win the four-bedroom semi-detached period property in Northampton, which is owned by district nurse Marty Pumbien and Annie Brown, who works in accident and emergency.


ANPs should have equality with junior docs, says medical body

doctor nurse workforce hospital

doctor nurse workforce hospital

Advanced nurse practitioners should have an equal role in giving basic medical care as junior doctors, according to safe staffing guidance from the Royal College of Physicians. RCP president Professor Dame Jane Dacre said that at a time of workforce shortages there needed to be an end to “cultural stereotypes” about what work doctors and nurses can do.


Nursing course applications have crashed by third in two years

Nursing and Midwifery Council

NMC confirms new ways overseas nurses can prove English skills

Nursing degree applications have continued to plummet in England, falling by almost 5,000 compared to last year, according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Services – confirming a drop of around a third in the two years since the bursary was scrapped. A total of 35,260 people have applied to study nursing next year, compared with the 40,060 at the same point in 2017.


Longer shifts increase risk of sick days for nurses and HCAs

sick stress bed tired ill

Researchers have called for the routine implementation of 12-hour shifts to be avoided after they found long shift patterns lead to a higher risk of sickness absence for hospital nurses and healthcare assistants. The study, led by the University of Southampton, concluded that higher sickness absence rates associated with long shifts could result in additional costs or loss of productivity for hospitals.


Cheshire baby murder suspect revealed as nurse Lucy Letby

Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Countess of Chester Hospital

Source: Dennis Turner

The woman held on suspicion of murdering eight babies at the Countess of Chester Hospital was identified as 28-year-old children’s nurse Lucy Letby. She was arrested as part of an investigation into unexplained baby deaths at the hospital’s neonatal unit between March 2015 and July 2016.


Nurses gets prison sentence for agency work while claiming sickness

St George’s Hospital

St George’s Hospital

A nurse who did agency work while off sick from her main job at St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust has been found guilty of fraud and sentenced to 16 months in prison. Vivian Coker defrauded the trust of more than £32,000, after working for two agencies while signed off sick.


New nurse-led mental health service for rough sleepers in Suffolk

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Jonathan Dickson

Jonathan Dickson

A nurse-led pilot has been launched to provide rough sleepers in the Ipswich and Suffolk Coastal areas with mental health assessment and short-term interventions. It will see senior mental health practitioner Jonathan Dickson engage with rough sleepers in the area, with the hope of getting them help to address underlying mental health conditions. Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust began the year-long initiative at the start of July.



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