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


Hunt’s contract change comments spark union concern on pay


Unions have voiced concerns after Jeremy Hunt revealed in a recent interview that he wished to overhaul NHS payments for night and weekend work in return for a pay rise above 1%.

The health secretary cited the agreement made following the angry dispute with junior doctors in 2016 as a potential “model” for staff on the Agenda for Change (AfC) contract.

He was speaking in the wake of the autumn budget, in which the chancellor committed to provide “additional funding” for a nurse pay rise if it was recommended by the NHS pay review body. But Philip Hammond also indicated that it would be dependent on successful negotiations to update AfC.

Mr Hunt subsequently indicated that staff could see basic pay increased in return to changes on weekend and nightshift pay. But he said reforming AfC was about achieving a “more professional pay structure”, rather than saving money.

It is likely to include reform of the increment structure as well as enhancements for the time staff spend working at night and weekends, with staff who work more of them getting higher pay rates than those who work fewer.

But unions expressed irritation that Mr Hunt had gone public with his views, prior to contract negotiations. The Royal College of Nursing said it would “not support any reduction in terms and conditions”, while the Royal College of Midwives said “his intervention has not helped the prospect of a deal on pay”.

Meanwhile, RCN campaigners have called on their leaders to be more “militant” and consider industrial action as the “only response” to the budget.


Exclusive: NMC revalidation date ‘confusion’ put nurses at risk of falling off the register


Nurses have been potentially put at risk of falling off the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s register due to confusing information about revalidation dates. The information, provided in a pre-recorded message on the NMC’s phoneline, may have led to nurses submitting their revalidation applications too late. The phoneline has since been corrected.


Nurses stretched to ‘breaking point’ over pay, finds RCN survey

Empty purse

Empty purse

Nursing staff are experiencing such financial hardship that 70% say they feel worse off than they did five years ago, while 23% have taken on another job simply to make ends meet, according to survey findings released by the Royal College of Nursing ahead of the budget on 22 November.


Burnout has ‘adverse effects’ on job performance of nurses

Ohio State University

Depression in nurses ‘increases likelihood of making errors’

Nurse burnout can significantly affect job performance, according to Italian researchers. They found longer shift patterns and psychiatric work settings were “significantly associated with burnout” but acknowledged that the “very nature of nursing activities can produce stressful conditions”.


Trust board papers highlight safety concerns on hospital ward hit by nurse ‘burn out’

Wye Valley NHS Trust

Wye Valley remains in ‘special measures’ after 15 months

Hereford County Hospital

Nursing staff burnout due to heavy workloads and inadequate skills mix is affecting patient care and safety at Wye Valley Trust, board papers have revealed. Particular concerns were identified about an acute admissions and gastroenterology ward where band 4 staff were being used to fill in for nurses.


New chief nurse appointed by leading children’s hospital

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust

New chief nurse appointed by leading children’s hospital

Alison Robertson

A nurse who started her career at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children Foundation Trust is returning to take up its most senior nursing post. Alison Robertson will become the trust’s new chief nurse in spring 2018, replacing Juliette Greenwood who retired at the end of October.


Doctors ‘get off more lightly’ than nurses in misconduct cases


Doctors found guilty of sexual offences, theft and fraud tend to get off more lightly than nurses and midwives, suggests an in-depth report into misconduct cases. The study analysed more than 6,700 cases and suggested that nurses often faced harsher sanctions for similar instances of wrongdoing perpetrated by medical colleagues, with “striking” differences in punishments handed down”.


Nursing associates set to pay same annual NMC fee as nurses


Nursing associates should pay the same annual registration fee as nurses and midwives, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council. It currently charges nurses and midwives £120 a year. Last month, the NMC said the same fee should apply to associates, because the cost for it to regulate them would not be “markedly” different to nurses and midwives.


Placement problems still posing risk to student learning, report half of universities

Student nurse placement narrative

Student nurse placement narrative

Problems with placements continue to pose a threat to student learning, with around half of all UK universities with pre-registration nursing courses reporting it as a risk in the past year.


First private hospital in UK to launch bid for Magnet nursing status

Holly Private Hospital

First private hospital in UK to launch bid for Magnet nursing status

The Holly Hospital

The Holly in Essex is hoping to become the first private hospital in the UK to gain a global stamp of approval for outstanding nursing practice by launching a bid to gain Magnet status.


Changes in nurse numbers ‘may be key’ to 120,000 excess deaths

NHS Improvement

Nurses told to use A&E checklist to ‘ensure safety over winter’

Changes in nurse numbers are linked to excess death rates – especially in care homes – according to a study. It estimated that the squeeze on public finances since 2010 was linked to nearly 120,000 excess deaths in England. Researchers said the critical factor may be changes in nurse numbers.


Concern for learning disability nursing as some courses ‘less than half full’

Student nurse uniform ONE USE

Copy of Student nurse uniform ONE USE

Serious concerns about the future of learning disability nursing programmes in England have been raised by the Council of Deans. Some universities had seen a more than 60% decline in application numbers since 2016, potentially threatening the viability of courses in future years.


Statutory guidance for new nurse staffing laws in Wales

Welsh Assembly

Safe staffing pioneers: Welsh law focuses on appropriate nursing levels

NHS organisations in Wales have been issued with statutory nurse staffing guidance ahead of the introduction of new laws next April. The document lays out the steps that must be taken to calculate and maintain the nursing workforce under the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016.


New national uniform for Scottish clinical nurse managers

Scottish government

New national uniform for Scottish clinical nurse managers

New burgundy tunic

A new burgundy tunic is to be rolled out across Scotland for all band 8 nurse managers and above who are working in clinical settings. The uniform, which is an addition to that already in place for lower bands, was launched in November.


Hunt promises ‘robust’ workforce plan for NHS next year

jeremy hunt confed 1

jeremy hunt confed 1

Source: Neil O’Connor

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced plans for a “robust” new national workforce strategy designed to help secure the long-term supply of nurses and doctors for the NHS. Due to be revealed next year, Mr Hunt indicated the over-arching strategy would draw together all existing staffing initiatives, such as nursing associates and apprenticeships.


First national framework for advanced clinical practice unveiled

Specialist nurse

Specialist nurse

The first national framework for nurses and other healthcare professionals working at an advanced level was revealed on 16 November, with the aim of providing a “clear and consistent approach” to training and practice.


‘Speed dating’ link with local business helps Devon trust halve nurse vacancies

Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust/Devon Cares

Pioneering acute trust hails ‘successful’ first year of home care

Source: Arpingstone

Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust has reduced its nurse vacancies by almost half in the past year following recruitment changes, including linking up job applicants’ partners with local firms to help them find work.



Nottingham maternity staff create their own ‘Call the Midwife’ fundraising calendar

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

Notts maternity staff create own ‘Call the midwife’ calendar

Maternity staff from Nottingham University Hospitals Trust have created their own calendar themed on the hit BBC TV show Call the midwife. A group of 29 staff from Ward C29 at Queen’s Medical Centre came up with the idea to raise money to refurbish a breakfast room for patients.





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