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The Year in Nursing 2010

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Nursing Times recalls the main events that made headlines in the news for nurses in 2010

January

Favouring single rooms over traditional wards has led to safety breaches according to 49 per cent of 1,200 nurses surveyed by Nursing Times.  Difficulties in observation and monitoring resulted in serious incidents such as suicides, invasive lines pulled out and assaults of nurses presents a greater risk of dying, nurses warned.

Scotland appointed Ros Moore as its chief nursing officer.

Salford Royal Foundation Trust nurses took the opportunity to discuss accident and emergency targets with prime minister Gordon Brown at a special reception at 10 Downing Street for the 2009 Nursing Times Awards winners.

The average nursing student could expect to finish their course with debts of up to £7,000, the Unison annual student survey warned.

Former nurse Colin Norris, imprisoned for murdering four patients at two hospitals in Leeds, was granted permission to appeal against his 30 year sentence. He lost the appeal.

Claire Bertschringer, the nurse who inspired Bob Geldolf to set up Band Aid, was made a dame in the New Year honours. During the 1984 famine in Ethiopia she was interviewed by the BBC about the tragedy she was witnessing as a Red Cross nurse, moving the Boomtown Rats frontman to get involved.

February

Nursing Times exclusively revealed the final report of the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery. Among its recommendations, the commission proposed all nurses make a pledge underlining their commitment to high quality care, their engagement with health service improvement and their professional accountability. It also called for immediate steps to strengthen the role of sisters and to continue with the move to becoming a graduate-only entry profession.

New Nursing and Midwifery Council chief executive and registrar Dickon Weir-Hughes said he wanted to “build bridges” with the profession but insisted the regulator’s primary focus was to protect patients. In a major interview with Nursing Times, he said: “In terms of our mission, whether nurses like us or not is more or less irrelevant.”

Health secretary Andrew Lansley was challenged by Nursing Times readers to clarify whether the Conservatives backed plans for a graduate-only entry profession after widespread confusion over his intentions. It eventually transpired that he did support the move.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council launched a major consultation on the future of pre-registration education.

A report by NHS Yorkshire and the Humber concluded poor record keeping and medicines management practices at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust allowed former nurse Colin Norris to kill four elderly patients.

March

Data from the NHS staff survey showed trusts where the majority of nurses said they were happy were more likely to be scored “excellent” for quality of services by the Care Quality Commission.

A row erupted after a bus company in Worcestershire featured an advert with a “sexy” nurse wearing a PVC uniform on vehicles on a route that serves a hospital.

A Nursing Times survey revealed patients were routinely being treated in areas of hospitals not designed for care, including storerooms, mop cupboards and in one case a kitchen.

Seven nurses who have made a major contribution to professional practice were inducted into the Nursing Times Hall of Fame. They included University College London Hospital Foundation Trust chief nurse Louis Boden and Thames Valley University professor of nursing Elizabeth Anionwu.

April

An investigation by Nursing Times revealed that student nurses often pass clinical placements despite serious concerns from their nurse mentors. In the survey of nearly 2,000 nurse mentors by Nursing Times, 37 per cent said they have passed students whose competencies or attitude concerned them, or who felt should fail. The Nursing and Midwifery Council said it would take immediate action to address the concerns.

Nurses in Wales started to take delivery of national colour coded uniforms only for scores to report developing rashes. 

A Nursing Times survey revealed that NHS organisations are ignoring their own nurses’ health and wellbeing by failing to provide proper breaks and neglecting the needs of those who work antisocial hours. The online poll of 650 nurses found 79 per cent said their trust did not give enough priority to staff health and wellbeing.

A Christian nurse, Shirley Chaplin, lost her discrimination claim against Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust after refusing to remove a crucifix at work

Health secretary Andy Burnham announced 95 per cent of trusts in England had “virtually eliminated” mixed sex accommodation by the government’s 1 April deadline.

May

Clinical nurse specialists across the country were being sent back to the wards to perform duties outside of their specialist remit and expertise, an investigation by Nursing Times found. The move by trusts trying to save money sparked patient safety concerns, as specialists feared they would have to carry out tasks they not done for a number of years.

A dearth of training and guidance means nurses are failing to follow “last offices”, the simple procedures for treating dead patients with dignity and respect, a report shared with Nursing Times revealed. It showed that in more than half of hospital deaths, nurses neglected to follow the procedures.

The general election ushered in the Conservative and Liberal Democrat government, including former nurse Anne Milton who became a health minister.

Dying patients were being denied adequate medication to control symptoms and relieve pain because nurses fear prosecution for assisting suicide, a Nursing Times survey revealed.

Nursing vacancies plummeted by nearly a third in less than a year, figures showed. The figures, taken from the NHS Jobs website, show there were 2,306 posts advertised at the beginning of August 2009, but nine months later there were only 1,552.

Nurses around the world celebrated the centenary of the death of Florence Nightingale on International Nurses Day.

The Queen’s Nursing Institute appointed the 100th Queen’s Nurse since the prestigious title was reintroduced in 2007.

June

Chancellor George Osborne announced a two-year pay freeze for all public sector workers earning £21,000 or more – though it does not apply to Agenda for Change increments between pay bands.

Oxford University research, shared with Nursing Times, showed healthcare assistants do twice as much direct patient care on the wards as registered nurses. The study found nurses spent 15 per cent of their time giving direct care at the bedside compared to 30 per cent for HCAs, reigniting calls for the formal registration of HCAs.

David Sines, professor of nursing an pro-vice chancellor of Bucks New University and Professor Mary Spinks, director of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, were awarded CBEs in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Nursing Times exclusively revealed the Royal College of Nursing was launching a judicial review against the Independent Safeguarding Authority over its new vetting and barring scheme, which it claimed could have “catastrophic” consequences for careers. The college went on to win its case in November.

Nurses were told how they could help the NHS cut waste and save money in guidance on eight “high impact actions” for nursing and midwifery, shared exclusively with Nursing Times.

July

One in four nurses said they would strike over working conditions and threats to services, according to a survey of over 5,000 Nursing Times readers – as fears about job security increased.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley published his health white paper, which proposed sweeping changes to the way the NHS is run.

The Royal of Nursing launched its Frontline First campaign to publicise how NHS budget cuts were harming patient care.

A Nursing Times investigation found that increasingly patchy funding for practice nurse training was encouraging “uneasy” alliances with the pharmaceutical industry. Primary care trusts and strategic heath authorities were found to be increasingly turning to the industry to provide staff training, risking bias in clinical decisions.

In her first interview with Nursing Times, health minister Anne Milton pledged to protect frontline nurses and give them more control over decisions about patient care.

A Care Quality Commission report heavily criticised out of hours care provider Take Care Now following the death of Cambridge patient David Gray in 2008. It cited unsafe staffing levels, for example where one nurse was the only clinical cover for a 70 mile area.

August

Senior nurses said the profession must change its approach to end of life care for chronic disease, after a groundbreaking report showed patients with respiratory and cardiovascular disease are significantly more likely to die at hospital than at home, compared to those with cancer.

Attempts to transform nursing care were threatened by government plans to axe the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, nurse leaders warned in Nursing Times. The institute introduced productive ward: releasing time to care programme and high impact actions for nurses.  

There is an urgent need to regulate assistant practitioners because they are increasingly being used as substitutes for registered nurses, a review by the National Nursing Research Unit concluded.

Hundreds of nurses were risking their registrations by bending prescribing rules to deliver facelifts on the cheap, Nursing Times revealed. The Nursing and Midwifery Council confirmed it was aware of nurses without prescribing qualifications issuing injectable cosmetic medicines such as Botox.

September

Nursing Times uncovered secret plans by foundation trusts to offer nurses immunity from redundancy if they agreed to have their Agenda for Change pay increments frozen.

A Unison survey showed healthcare assistants were routinely taking on tasks traditionally performed by registered nurses.

Nursing Times revealed that the government was considering fast-tracking health visitor training to meet its pledge of recruiting an extra 4,200 health visitors by 2015, and also that acute trusts were relying on nurses to earn them £280m a year in quality payments.

Jenni Middleton was appointed editor of Nursing Times.

October

The case of a tetraplegic, Jamie Merrett, left with brain damage after an agency nurse, Violetta Aylward accidentally turned off his ventilator, was widely reported. Senior nurses warned in Nursing Times that the case was symptomatic of an increasing dilution of skills among overstretched community nurse teams.

Chancellor George Osborne announced spending plans that will force nurses and other public sector staff to pay more towards their pensions and retire later.

Nursing directors in London and the West Midlands said they were launching a venture designed to improve the image of nursing, which they warned was often seen as “hard, nasty and menial”. The web-based project is intended to attract a wider range of people into the profession.

Tributes poured in after former nurse, health writer and patient advocate Claire Rayner died in London, several months after undergoing intestinal surgery. Ms Rayner, who began her literary career with a letter to Nursing Times in 1958, signed off with a warning to “come back and haunt” prime minister David Cameron if he failed to improve care standards.

A Nursing Times investigation found hundreds of thousands of patients were being moved from one ward to another with no clinical justification, risking infection. Analysis of hospital data revealed 1.3 million patient bed moves made each year for non-clinical reasons.

Speaking at the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors annual conference, health minister Anne Milton pledged to recruit an extra 4,200 health visitors.

November

Chief nursing officer for England Dame Christine Beasley announced she would step down in March after six years. However, question marks remain on a successor, with suggestions the post may be split into two – one a public health role and the other on the NHS national commissioning board.

Nursing Times exclusively revealed the government was considering a U-turn on future control of maternity services, with GPs now likely to be given control of commissioning them instead of the new NHS commissioning board – as previously proposed.

The Department of Health published a position statement on the first ever national standards for advanced nurse practitioners and the Royal College of Nursing launched eight principles for nursing practice.

Elsewhere an HCA from Stoke, Brenda Nixon, got into trouble for writing a note criticising her hospital for earmarking beds for end of life care patients that would only be occupied for two days. A Nursing Times survey also revealed a quarter of nurses involved in end of life care felt they had insufficient skills and training in discussing the issue with patients.

While the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust Public Inquiry got started, the Royal College of Nursing hit the headlines after claiming nearly 27,000 NHS posts across the UK had been earmarked to be cut.

On a happier note, nurses from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Trust won the chief nursing officer’s award at the 2010 Nursing Times Awards for their work improving acute care for patients with learning disabilities.

December

Nursing Times launched its Seat on the Board campaign, to push for nursing influence at the highest level of the GP consortia that will be handed control of the bulk of NHS funding in April 2013.

While nurses and midwives struggled to work through the snow against the odds, Nursing Times learnt they will not be legally entitled to take the extra national public holiday announced by the government to celebrate the royal wedding on 29 April next year. Wording in the Agenda for Change contract means it will be down to trust’s discretion.

The government’s public health white paper stated more than £500m is to be invested in recruiting and training extra health visitors.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Adedapo Haastrup

    I preffered The Florence Nightingale-Style Type of Wards ,because one could literally walk from one patient to the next as well as observe clients easily with less hazells of having to aprroach one room enter in leave that room enter the next incessantly and constantly. I think this Idea is pro- patient not Nurse -friendly.We all just have to work harder .As it seems we've haven't got much of a choice.

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