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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 May and early June 2017? Catch up with our summary of the main nursing headlines.


Blanket approach to new tax rules for temporary staff scrapped

NHS Improvement has pulled back from a blanket approach to new tax rules for bank, agency and locum staff, telling trusts to apply assessments on a “case-by-case basis”.

“This consideration must be conducted fairly, accurately and take into account all relevant factors”

NHS Improvement

The change of stance is set out in updated guidelines on the new tax rules, known as IR35, and followed complaints by staff over the blanket approach previously advocated by the regulator.

NHS Improvement had written to trusts in February telling them that it expected “all locum, agency and bank staff” would come under the new IR35 tax rules from 1 April.

IR35 meant switching temporary NHS staff to “pay as you earn” (PAYE) and was intended to shift responsibility for paying tax and national insurance for self-employed workers to their employers.



However, it meant significant reductions in income for some agency staff, because many previously supplied their services to the NHS via personal service companies, allowing them to legally limit their tax liability by drawing income from their company profits.

In its update, NHS Improvement acknowledged that it wrongly “anticipated” all agency staff should be under the new rules, stating that they “should be applied on a case-by-case basis, rather than by a broader classification of roles”.

“NHS providers… will need to consider whether or not an individual in their particular situation is self-employed when they determine the application of the IR35 rules in that case,” said the update. “This consideration must be conducted fairly, accurately and take into account all relevant factors, including representations which may be provided by the individual.”

At the end of March, the regulator suspended the introduction of another new rule preventing permanent NHS staff from doing agency shifts at other health service providers.


Regulator to carry out ‘stocktake’ of English language testing for overseas nurses


The Nursing and Midwifery Council is to carry out a “stocktake” of the test it uses to assess the English language skills of overseas nurses and midwives coming to work in the UK. The regulator will be “gathering data and evidence” to help it decide whether the test level needs to change. The International English Language Testing System exam has been in place since 2007 for recruits from outside the European Union and early 2016 for EU staff. But trusts have warned that its difficulty is delaying vital overseas recruitment.


NMC to split consultation on major nurse education overhaul

NMC building

NMC, Portland Place

A consultation is to start this month on new standards for nurse education, based on draft plans published by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. But the regulator has said two of its major proposals – to withdraw its medicines management standards and to introduce a number of changes to prescribing – will be consulted on separately. The NMC said the move was based on the large amount of information it was seeking views on and concerns that just one consultation would be less accessible for people wanting to take part.


Design agency and trust apologise for error over ‘sexist’ nurse job adverts

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Yorkshire trust still ‘requires improvement’, says CQC

Hull Royal Infirmary

A design agency and hospital trust apologised after two nursing recruitment adverts were used by mistake that went on to attract widespread criticism for being sexist. The adverts were developed by Strawberry Design for Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust. They featured two of the trust’s nurses with the captions that “caught the attention of social media users, print and broadcast media”. One said: “Before lunch, Izzy made Roy’s heart flutter. It’d stopped for 10 minutes.”


Nurse finds herself at centre of election smear campaign

Scottish National Party

Nurse finds herself at centre of election smear campaign

Claire Austin during the TV election debate

A nurse who questioned Scotland’s first minister during a TV election debate over poor pay and the use of foodbanks found herself at the centre of a smear campaign. Claire Austin, who works for NHS Lothian, faced a storm of criticism on social media, was the subject of a critical story in the tabloid press and was wrongly alleged to be married to a Conservative councillor.

Nurse finds herself at centre of election smear campaign


Global nursing body elects new president

International Council of Nurses

New present elected for International Council of Nurses

New president and governors of ICN in 2017

Annette Kennedy, from Ireland, has been elected as the new president of the International Council of Nurses. Ms Kennedy was director of professional development at the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation for 19 years and served as ICN vice president from 2013-17. She said: “I believe ICN has the potential to influence the delivery of global nursing care and health policy.”

New president elected for International Council of Nurses


Trust to dual train health visitors and school nurses to help plug service gaps in Norfolk


Nurses central to new Norfolk palliative care service


Health visitors and school nurses in Norfolk are to be put through additional training in one another’s field of practice to help plug gaps in services for young people. Cambridgeshire Community Services Trust, which runs the region’s integrated service for children aged 0-19, had found primary school children were not getting the care they needed.


Mental health trust prosecuted after nursing staff stabbed

Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust

Mental health trust prosecuted after nursing staff stabbed

The Bracton Centre

The Health and Safety Executive is to prosecute Oxleas Foundation NHS Trust after two members of nursing staff were stabbed by a patient last July at its Bracton Centre site. Myha Grant inflicted 17 wounds on healthcare assistant Julius Falomo and six wounds on nurse Francis Barrett.

Mental health trust prosecuted after nursing staff stabbed


Nurses take on roles in local government

Queen's Nursing Institute

Urgent care nurse to become mayor of London borough

Yemisi Osho (left) receiving her QNI certificate in 2012

Yemisi Osho, Queen’s nurse and urgent care consultant at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust, has become the new mayor of Waltham Forest in London. Meanwhile, Sarah Barber, a recovery nurse at Ipswich Hospital Trust, was elected mayor of Ipswich in Suffolk.


National cancer charity Macmillan appoints its first chief nursing officer

karen roberts

karen roberts

Dr Karen Roberts

Macmillan Cancer Support has appointed Dr Karen Roberts as its first chief of nursing and allied health professionals. She will join from Gateshead Health Foundation Trust where she was a nurse consultant. Previously a Macmillan clinical nurse specialist, she is credited with having extensive clinical, managerial and research experience. The charity said the role had been created in recognition of the “vital part” nurses and AHPs played in its own work and across wider cancer care.


Welsh schools to get dedicated nurse


Source: Monkey Business - Fotolia

Each secondary school and its cluster primaries will have an “identified” school nurse and associated health team, according to the Welsh government’s new school nursing framework. Under the core minimum intervention, it stated that a nurse should be available to all children within the school they attend. This would ensure children received “consistent expert support” from a nurse “familiar with their health and wellbeing needs”, it said.


Audit reveals ‘wide variation’ in speed of asthma care in emergency departments


Pressure on accident and emergency departments means they are finding it “challenging” to meet standards for timely treatment for asthma patients, according to the Royal College of Emergency Medicine. It cited a dangerous mix of causal factors, including lack of adequate numbers of nursing and medical staff in A&E to cope with demand, lack of staff education in key areas, delayed discharge and a lack of robust protocols and pathways.

Pay not May takes centre stage at congress

Poor pay rises and potential industrial action as a result, plus the looming general election, were the key themes at this year’s Royal College of Nursing annual congress.

The conference, in Liverpool, began with the news that 78% of those who voted in the RCN’s consultation on industrial action over pay would support a strike and 91% would back other forms of action, such as working to rule or protesting.

Of the 270,000 members eligible to vote, 52,000 took part in the online poll from 13 April to 7 May. This 19% turnout fell short of the 50% necessary to trigger a formal ballot. However, delegates subsequently voted to support “a summer of planned protest activity followed by an industrial action ballot” should the next government fail to end the policy of pay restraint.

Royal College of Nursing

RCN Congress 2017

Congress chair Stuart McKenzie

Janet Davies, the RCN’s chief executive and general secretary, used her keynote congress speech to warn that nursing was facing a “deadly combination” of too few people being trained, experienced staff leaving the health service and a “criminal” lack of workforce planning.

The conference was also addressed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron who showcased their manifestos. But a no-show by Theresa May prompted an angry response from delegates and a letter from Ms Davies to the prime minster, accusing her of “disrespecting” RCN members.

Meanwhile, congress voted to “challenge vigorously” employers who failed to comply with working time regulations and demanded a re-banding of nursing jobs under Agenda for Change. It also discussed whether cycle helmets should be mandatory and if nurses with dementia should be allowed to continue working.

Catch-up on over 20 Nursing Times articles from this year’s conference by visiting our congress web page





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