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Review of the year

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Nursing Times looks back over 2007

January

ICU nurses tell NT how they successfully treated six young men who became critically ill during a high-profile drug trial at Northwick Park Hospital in London. A leaked government report predicts that the NHS will be facing a shortage of 14,000 nurses within four years.

February
Trusts take increasingly desperate measures to save money in a bid to balance the books by April. Measures include bans on stationery orders and removing lightbulbs from non-clinical areas.

The government publishes its white paper on the future of healthcare regulation, which proposes revalidating nurses and introducing a civil standard of proof in NMC misconduct cases.

March

The government announces that it wishes to stage nurses’ pay, with 1.5% given in April and 1% in November. The move angers unions, who begin talk of industrial action. Later in the month the Scottish ministers break ranks, saying they will implement the pay rise in full.

An NT investigation reveals the seriousness of cuts to funding for nurse training made by strategic health authorities, which were under pressure to save money.

April

Government figures show that fewer than half the target number of 3,000 community matrons have been appointed. Community nurses say it is time to rethink the initiative.

In his inaugural speech to RCN congress, college general secretary Peter Carter says the government’s decision to stage nurse pay is ‘shameful’.

May

The government lifts the blanket ban on the use of mobile phones in hospitals, although the ban remains in place in clinical areas.

The first 13 community nurses in 40 years are awarded the title of Queen’s Nurse.

June

The NMC announces that it has made a surplus of £3.8m but will still press ahead with plans to increase the annual registration fee from £43 to £76.

Mental health nurses in Manchester threaten strike action in support of a colleague, Karen Reissmann, after she is suspended from her post amid claims of bringing the trust into disrepute.

One of Gordon Brown’s first moves as prime minister is to replace Patricia Hewitt with Alan Johnson as health secretary.

July

In her first interview as junior health minister, former nurse Ann Keen tells NT she will listen to the frustrations of nurses.

The Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive announce they will give nurses the full pay award, leaving nurses in England to face staging alone.

Junior health minister, Sir Ara Darzi, unveils a radical blueprint for NHS services in London, based on the ‘polyclinic’ concept.
The RCN abandons plans to replace its professional forums with online networks.

August

The government in England averts industrial action about pay by offering health workers a package of incentives. This includes paying £38 towards nurses’ NMC fees. An NT survey, however, reveals nurse displeasure at the deal.

September

A row erupts over nurse footwear, when several newspapers run stories that ‘Crocs can kill’.

A fifth of nurses spend over half their working week on paperwork, and the amount is increasing, an exclusive NT survey reveals.

Nurses are told they must not wear their uniforms in public but ministers admit that the new rules are driven by public opinion rather than hard research on infection control.

At the Labour Party Conference, ministers announce a ‘deep clean’ of all wards in England.

October

Nurses at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust in Kent find themselves at the centre of a media firestorm, after the Healthcare Commission said failings at the trust had contributed to the deaths of 90 patients from Clostridium difficile.

The knowledge and skills framework is formally relaunched in England, after trusts’ widespread failure to adopt the scheme.

NT launches a campaign calling on ministers to rethink plans to cut funding for specialist catheter equipment.

The RCN makes a landmark decision that nurses should be allowed to perform terminations of pregnancy.

November

The Department of Health and the NMC launch separate consultation documents on the future of nurse training at pre-registration and post-registration levels.

A threatened service for children in Warwickshire with acute conditions wins a reprieve after nurses expose closure plans to NT.

December

NT reveals that the government believes that around 3,500 specialist community public health nurses have not been legitimately registered for two years because they are listed on only the third part of the NMC register. Although disputing the government’s claim, the regulator votes to address the situation.

In new strategies on cancer and stroke, ministers call on trusts to boost the numbers of clinical nurse specialists in oncology, while also pledging central funding for training specialist stroke nurses.

Nurses from Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust – at the heart of a C.diff outbreak earlier in the year – tell NT trust managers were more interested in meeting government targets than patient care.

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