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


England’s CNO announces exit with shake-up of role to follow

Jane Cummings

CNO Summit 2013

Jane Cummings

England’s most senior nurse has signalled that she is to step down from her role in the near future, while also unveiling ambitions to reform the country’s nursing leadership structure.

“It has been an honour and privilege to be the professional lead for over 500,000 nurses and midwives”

Jane Cummings

Chief nursing officer for England Professor Jane Cummings announced in May that she would be retiring in around six months. During her remaining time in post, she will work to combine the senior nursing teams currently at NHS England and the regulator NHS Improvement.

She has recommended to NHS leaders that the CNO should be the executive nurse lead for both organisations, which have wider plans to work more closely together. Dr Ruth May is currently executive chief nurse at NHS Improvement and is also a deputy CNO.

Professor Cummings said: “I believe passionately in nursing and midwifery and that the professions and the NHS benefit if we speak with one voice. Over the next six months, my focus will be to support the alignment of the two nursing teams across NHS England and NHS Improvement.”

She added: “It has been an honour and privilege to be the professional lead for over 500,000 nurses and midwives who make an incredible difference to people when they need it most.”

Professor Cummings became CNO for England in March 2012. She has overseen the publication of the Compassion in Practice nursing strategy, which included the “6Cs”, followed by its successor Leading Change, Adding Value In 2016.

Earlier this year she announced that a major national nursing recruitment campaign would be launched this summer to coincide with the NHS 70th birthday.


RCN Congress: union will fight to secure safe staffing

Royal College of Nursing

RCN Congress 2018

The Royal College of Nursing is to demand safe nurse staffing legislation in all parts of the UK in a new campaign it will launch this autumn, its chief executive and general secretary has announced.

As part of her speech at the RCN’s annual congress in Belfast, Janet Davies attacked “short-sighted” cost-cutting measures that had led to staff shortages, and a failure by politicians to listen to the warnings of nurses.

She said care was being “totally compromised” by staffing shortages and evidence showed patient mortality increased with fewer registered nurses.

Among a range of issues, the conference also featured reports and debates on lack of investment in health visiting and school nursing services, staffing shortages in sexual health clinics and prisons.

In addition, Ms Davies told delegates that the RCN would look into concerns about the way the NHS pay deal has been communicated to its members, following claims that the union has “misrepresented” the offer.

Nursing and Midwifery Council chief executive to step down

NT Deputies 2016

Revalidation will ‘go further’ in future to up standards

Source: Andy Paraskos

Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith is to step down as chief executive and registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council at the end of July, after over six years in the role. Her departure was announced in the same week the NMC was criticised in a report for its handling of the Morecambe Bay maternity care scandal.


NMC launches new standards to ‘shape next generation of nurses’

Nursing and Midwifery Council

NMC confirms new ways overseas nurses can prove English skills

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has launched its new standards on the skills and knowledge the “next generation of nurses will learn to enable them to deliver world class care” and also for a “more modern and innovative approach” to the way universities train them.


‘Broad support’ for government’s associate regulation plans

Richmond House

Richmond House

Source: Duncan Leslie

Richmond House

Legislation changes to allow nursing associates onto the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s register are to go ahead, following “broad support” for the plans, the government has said.

‘Broad support’ for government’s associate regulation plans


Trusts turning to bank nurses over agencies to fill vacancies

Money cash finance

Money cash finance

The NHS acute sector had 92,694 staff vacancies, of which 35,794 were for nursing, at the end of March, according to analysis by NHS Improvement. This led to £976m more being spent on NHS bank staff than planned. However, the sector spent £527m less on filling shifts from expensive agencies compared to the previous year.


Scotland unveils bill to ensure ‘safe’ staffing in NHS and care settings

Scottish Parliament

Scottish Parliament

Scottish Parliament

A bill to ensure nurse staffing levels are safe has been published by the Scottish government. The bill, which follows the passing of similar legislation in Wales, will require health boards and care providers to have “suitable staffing in place to enable all patients to receive safe, high quality care”.


Newly-qualifieds front new drive to get people into nursing

Health Education England

Cherie Lawrence

Poster featuring Cherie Lawrence

A group of student and newly-qualified nurses are at the forefront of a new campaign to attract more young people into nursing. The campaign, launched by Health Education England, is targeted at 16 to 18-year-olds with the aim of boosting applications to nursing courses.


Nurses told to abide by new stronger rules on patient data



Nurses have been warned not to share passwords or leave patient data onscreen, as part of a wider drive on data protection. NHS England has launched a campaign to coincide with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force on 25 May.


Excessive nurse workload linked to higher patient safety risk

stressed nurse with patient

stressed nurse with patient

Having an excessive daily nurse workload increases the risk of patient safety incidents and deaths, according to a ground-breaking study from Finland. The chances of a safety incident increased by up to 30% and the odds of a patient dying by about 40% if nurses’ workload went above “optimal” levels.


Nurse shortages costing NHS £1.5bn a year in agency and bank fees


Starting gun fired on nurse pay and contract change talks

New and old pound coins

Trusts in England are spending £1.46bn a year on agency and bank nurse shifts to plug gaps in permanent nursing staff, according to an Open University report. It said the bill for temporary staff would be enough to pay the salaries of 66,000 newly qualified registered nurses.


Exclusive: Half of learning disability nursing courses ‘considering closure’

Nursing student

Student nurse

Source: Jennifer Van Schoor

Almost half of universities with pre-registration learning disability nursing courses have discussed terminating their programmes next year due to student recruitment difficulties, a survey by the Council of Deans of Health has indicated. Three quarters of universities have also so far not been able to make enough offers to applicants to fill all their spaces for courses starting in September.


Postgrad student nurses in struggling specialties to receive ‘golden hellos’

British houses of parliament

British houses of parliament

Postgraduates choosing to study areas of nursing with the worst recruitment difficulties will be offered “golden hellos” worth £10,000, in a move to mitigate losing the bursary. The £9m government support package is aimed at mental health, learning disabilities and district nursing.


Community trusts concerned about shortage of ‘linchpin’ nursing staff

rural community district nurse

rural community district nurse health visitor

Source: Samuel Ivin

Credit: Sam Irvin

Most community healthcare providers fear current workforce plans will not deliver enough district nurses, health visitors, and specialist nurses to realise ambitions of providing more services closer to home, according to an NHS Providers report. It warned that the community sector was struggling with funding shortfalls, staffing shortages and lack of recognition.


World’s nurses ‘need a pay rise and better working conditions’



Nurses around the world need a pay rise and better working conditions, with wages showing salary stagnation and a fall in purchasing power, according to a new report. It is based on an analysis of pay data collected by the International Council of Nurses over the 10-year period from 2006 to 2016.


Nursing union criticises trust plans to sell off key worker homes

Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Royal Free

Royal Free Hospital

The Royal College of Nursing has criticised a London trust’s plans to sell off accommodation for nurses and other key workers to build luxury flats as “nothing short of disgraceful”. The Royal Free Trust is exploring the potential sale of Queen Mary’s House, where 52 key workers currently live.


University and trusts launch pioneering nursing academy

University of Exeter

University and trusts launch pioneering Devon nursing academy

David Richards and Alison Marchbank

A new academy of nursing to support continuing professional development and promote research has been launched by Exeter University, Devon Partnership Trust, Northern Devon Healthcare Trust, the Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust and Torbay and South Devon Foundation Trust.


Two new clinical nursing professors to drive trust research

Nurse researcher

Nurse research

Two trusts have appointed clinical nursing professors to drive forward their research programmes. Professor Jane Coad is joining University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust and Professor Fiona Nolan is joining Tavistock and Portman Foundation Trust.

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