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

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


Nurse awarded new record for run in wake of social media uproar

Guinness World Records

Jessica Anderson

Jessica Anderson finishing the London Marathon in 2019

The rules surrounding record breaking run attempts by people dressed as nurses are to be reviewed as a “priority”, following an outcry when a UK nurse discovered that she could not attain a record by wearing her own work trousers instead of a dress.

London nurse Jessica Anderson was told her work uniform of scrubs did not match the criteria laid down by Guinness World Records. Ms Anderson ran the London Marathon this year wearing her nurses’ uniform, aiming to beat the current record of 3:08:54, reported Runner’s World.

She subsequently ran the marathon in 3:08:22. She was running in aid of the Barts Charity to raise money for the staff and unit at the acute admissions unit at the Royal London Hospital, where she has worked for nearly seven years.

Ms Anderson’s story prompted an outcry on social media site Twitter on Saturday, with the chief nursing officers of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland among those condemning the rules and posting pictures of themselves wearing scubs.

“It is quite clear that this record title is long over due a review”

Guinness World Records

In response to a request from Nursing Times for comment on the issue and whether it would consider changing its position, Guinness World Records said in a statement that it would review as a priority its rules surrounding record attempts in nurse uniform.

A spokeswoman said: “Inclusiveness and respect are values that Guinness World Records holds extremely dear and while we always need to ensure we can differentiate between categories, it is quite clear that this record title is long over due a review which we will conduct as a priority in the coming days.”


District nurses need better way to show their value and protect posts

district nurse three

district nurse three

Source: Kate Stanworth

Queen’s Nurse with patient

New data is needed to demonstrate the true value of a district nursing service looking at “positive outcomes” that often go unnoticed such as how many patients receive end of life care in their own homes, leaders have urged. They warned that lack of understanding of the role of a district nurse and the benefits they brought to families and the wider health system had led to “chronic” under-investment. The concerns were made in a new joint report released by the Queen’s Nursing Institute and the Royal College of Nursing.


Nurses call for tougher law to dissolve ‘toxic culture’ of bullying

rcn congress bullying pic

rcn congress bullying pic

RCN Congress 2019

Nurses were moved to tears as they stood up to share their experiences of “deplorable” bullying at the hands of colleagues. During a debate at the Royal College of Nursing congress, union members told of a “toxic culture” of bullying that was staining the profession and leaving some fearful to go to work. They passed a motion urging the RCN to lobby for tougher action against bullying behaviour.


Views vary on national nurse uniform despite current ‘confusion’



Salisbury’s coloured scrub uniforms

Nurses are divided over whether England should follow the lead of Wales and Scotland and introduce a national uniform. In a discussion on the matter at the RCN’s annual congress, union members expressed varying views on the merit of a standardised uniform.


Nurses’ goodwill is being abused, warns RCN leader

Royal College of Nursing

Dame Donna Kinnair

Donna Kinnair giving her keynote speech

The leader of the Royal College of Nursing has pledged that she will “not stop” until ministers take decisive action to end the workforce crisis. In her first speech on the opening day of this year’s RCN congress, chief executive and general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said that the goodwill of nurses that has been keeping the system afloat was wearing thin.


Sexualisation of nurses gives way to harassment, congress told

Ohio State University

Depression in nurses ‘increases likelihood of making errors’

The enduring sexualisation of nurses must end to keep them safe from harassment in the workplace, according to RCN members, who told congress the portrayal of nursing in the mainstream media undermined their professionalism and increased the risk of abuse. They blamed films like those in the Carry On… series for creating a legacy of sexualisation of their uniform.


One in 20 places to study nursing were not filled this year

Cedars school2

One in 20 places to study nursing were not filled this year, according to a new report that suggests concerns about the cost of study are deterring potential students. The figures obtained via a Freedom of Information request suggest 6% of places were unfilled at the start of the current academic year – the equivalent of 1,450 potential nurses.


Scotland passes law on safe staffing for NHS and social care

Scottish Parliament

Scottish Parliament

Scottish Parliament

A landmark bill to ensure Scotland’s health and social care services are safely staffed has been passed into law. It comes after Wales became the first country in Europe to introduce a safe staffing law for nursing in 2016. The Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill goes further as it applies to all clinical staff groups and also includes social care.


Nurse safe staffing laws set to be extended in Wales

jean white

jean white

Jean White

Safe staffing legislation in Wales is set to be extended to other areas of nursing, with paediatric inpatients earmarked as a priority, the country’s chief nursing officer has said. The Welsh government has announced plans to extend the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016, which currently covers adult acute inpatient wards and surgical wards, by the end of 2020.


Private sector trying to poach NHS nurses with training offer

Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust

St Thomas’ Hospital

St Thomas’ Hospital

A major NHS trust has been forced to ramp up efforts to retain its staff, after revealing that private sector companies have offered its nurses training courses and a recruitment incentive. Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust warned that, as a result of continuing professional development funding cuts, private providers were offering its staff recruitment incentives to try and lure them away.


Severe nurse shortages force community hospital closure

city community hospital

city community hospital

City Community Hospital 

A community hospital is Oxford is temporarily shutting down because there are not enough registered nurses to keep patients safe. Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust is closing its 12-bed City Community Hospital at the Fulbrook Centre at the end of this month.


Nursing students in Cornwall to be paid while they train


Cornish health visiting services threatened with council cuts

Cornish flag

Nursing students in Cornwall will be paid during their training in exchange for their commitment to work in the county, as part of a “unique” initiative to retain staff. Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group and Cornwall Council plan to introduce a scheme to incentivise students to join a new “virtual” academy while they train.


Florence Nightingale and Edith Cavell celebrated at abbey

Florence Nightingale Foundation

Lamp party at Westminster Abbey 2019

Source: Ross Young Corporate Photographers

The 2019 lamp party

Westminster Abbey was filled with nurses on 15 May for a special service to commemorate both the life of Florence Nightingale and to mark the centenary of the funeral of Edith Cavell. Nurses at also celebrated the 300th anniversary of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital at the abbey on 23 May.


WHO confirms 2020 as international year of nurse and midwife

international year of nurse and midwife

international year of nurse and midwife

Health leaders announce 2020 as year of the nurse

The first ever international year of the nurse and midwife will be held in 2020, it has been confirmed by the World Health Organization, providing a “once in a generation opportunity” to showcase the professions.


Exclusive: ‘Major increase’ in placements for new student nurses

Student nurse placement narrative

Student nurse placement narrative

Trusts across England will be offering an additional 5,000 student nurse placements this autumn, fulfilling a pledge made in the NHS long-term plan. The total figure for new placements available will be 5,764 – a 25% increase on the existing number, according to NHS England and NHS Improvement.


Film shows vulnerable adults ‘mocked, taunted and intimidated’


Whorlton Hall Hospital

Whorlton Hall Hospital

An undercover film recorded for the BBC Panorama programme has revealed vulnerable adults at a specialist hospital “being mocked, taunted and intimidated”. The programme centred on Whorlton Hall in County Durham, where 10 staff have subsequently been arrested.


Survey shows pay and conditions key issue for practice nurses

primary care general practice nurse

primary care general practice nurse

Addressing problems with pay, terms and conditions is key to retaining nurses in primary care, according to a survey of 500 staff by Helene Irvine, nurse advisor at Wessex Local Medical Committees. The poll also highlighted concerns about lack of clarity over nurse titles in the sector.


London terror victim awarded medal for ‘courage and devotion’

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Updated: Tributes pour in for nurse killed in terror attack

Kirsty Boden

London terror victim senior staff nurse Kirsty Boden has been awarded a Florence Nightingale Medal for her courage and devotion on 3 June 2017. The British Red Cross, which nominated her, told Nursing Times that it was “difficult to imagine a more deserving recipient”.



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