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The unofficial awards ceremony for 2011

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Nursing Times thought it appropriate (and fun) to dish out a few unofficial gongs to those that have had a major impact in or on nursing this year.

Screeching tyres u-turn award

The Nursing and Midwifery Council was forced to issue a statement on 10 October “clarifying” its position on striking. The NMC said nurses could take industrial action without breaching its code of conduct, three days after it issued a press release warning nurses they would “need to consider very carefully the impact of their actions on the people receiving their care”, as this could place their registration at risk. Unison responded by threatening the NMC with legal action. The rest is history.

(Lack of) bravery award

Health secretary Andrew Lansley (with small pic) walked into a political cul-de-sac of his own making at RCN Congress in April. It was initially reported he would not be appearing at all, but this changed to a meeting with 50 nurses as part of the government’s “listening exercise” on the Health Bill. It was the first congress in eight years without a keynote address from either the prime minister or health secretary, leading to claims Mr Lansley “lacked the guts” to face the conference and inadvertently sparking a vote of no confidence in his reforms. 

Bad timing award

Chancellor George Osborne (with small pic) was never going to be popular for announcing that public sector wage rises would be capped at an average of 1% for two years from 2013 in his autumn statement on 29 November. But making this announcement the day before nurses and other public sector staff were due to go on strike over proposed changes to pensions gave fuel to union’s ire.

You keep me hanging on award

The government signalled this year that the post of chief nursing officer for England, currently filled by Dame Christine Beasley who was due to retire in March this year, will be split in two. In October the Department of Health began advertising for a “director of nursing” to be its “principal advisor on public health nursing”. There will be a separate “chief nursing officer” who will be part of the new NHS Commissioning Board, which will take on many of the DH’s current functions. Questions have been raised about the status of these two posts, and as a result nursing, at senior government levels. 

Quote me snappy award

RCN general secretary and chief executive Peter Carter has had a busy year in the national media. His comments on nursing regularly made the front pages – sometimes sparking controversy though he claimed he was often misquoted. At number 19, he was also the highest place nurse in this year’s HSJ100, the annual list of the most influential people in healthcare compiled by Health Service Journal.

  • “Yet more evidence that nurses have genuine concerns that they will be victimised if they speak up” Daily Telegraph, 5 December, on new RCN data on whistleblowing
  • “The NHS is just not going to deal with it. Neither are social services. You have got to get maximum family involvement” Daily Mail 26, September, on visitors looking after relatives in hospital
  • “What we have on hospital wards, and particularly in domiciliary care and care homes, is an unregulated, untrained workforce who are picking up so much of this on the job as they go along. Frankly, it’s nothing short of a disgrace” The Times, 22 September, on HCA regulation and standards among newly qualified nurses
  • “In our metropolitan areas we have far too many acute hospitals. That’s a drain on the system and it has got to change” The Times, 17 June, on the need to close failing hospitals and shift care into the community
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