Category Archives: Latest News

Major campaign launched to celebrate 70 years of the NHS

England’s Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), Prof Jane Cummings, has announced a major new campaign to improve recruitment and retention as part of plans to recognise the health service’s 70th anniversary this year.

The campaign will highlight the significant contribution of nurses and midwives over the past 70 years, along with identifying the wide range of career opportunities in the NHS today.

It is hoped this will improve the rate of recruitment and level of retention in the NHS, which has been suffering from recent staff shortages.

‘The shape of the UK’s future workforce is changing and people today will have job choices in areas that may as yet not even exist. But what will remain constant is the need in our society for extraordinary people who want to care for others,’ said Prof Cummings.

‘We want to highlight through this new campaign that nursing and midwifery provides the opportunity not only for an outstanding career, but the chance to have a profound and direct impact on the lives of thousands and thousands of people in a way that simply can’t be matched.’

Janet Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), responded to the news: ‘Nursing is a modern and dynamic profession with caring for people at its heart. This campaign is a welcome focus on promoting nursing and we would be delighted to work with the CNO on this in England.

‘We must do anything we can do to attract people to the profession and shake off outdated perceptions of nursing. However, we have a huge task on our hands to recruit and retain the next generation of nurses when the current workforce is shrinking.’

The campaign, which will be run through a collaboration of organisations, is just one part of a number of measures announced by Prof Cummings.

Others measures include the establishment of 165 ‘nursing and midwifery ambassadors’ to boost the image of the profession, protecting the title of ‘nurse’ to ensure only registered nurses can use the title, and launching a 70-day national campaign to get elderly people back into their preferred environment so they are more comfortable and reduce the burden on the NHS.

More Diabetes undergoing a ‘paradigm shift’ as 5 types of the disease identified

A group of Scandinavian scientists have said diabetes can be separated into five different diseases, with specific treatments for each one possible.

The researchers from Sweden and Finland claim they have unearthed a far more complex picture of the disease and that we should give up the idea diabetes can be divided into just two types.

Leif Groop, professor of diabetes at Lund University and author of the study, claimed the results could herald a ‘paradigm shift’ in our understanding of the disease and said it could be the ‘first step towards personalised treatment’.

In the UK there are almost 3.7 million people living with diabetes, with a further 1 million estimated to be undiagnosed. Under current classifications, 90% of these have Type 2 diabetes.

The research, published in the Lancet, and which conducted a detailed analysis of 14,775 patients, argued the disease could be stratified into five distinct categories:

  • Severe autoimmune diabetes (SAID) – This is basically the same as Type 1 diabetes, where one’s immune system is unable to produce insulin and which effects people when they are young.
  • Severe insulin-deficient diabetes (SIDD) – Very similar to SAID, except their immune system was not to blame.
  • Severe insulin-resistant diabetes (SIRD) – For this class of patient, their pancreas was still producing insulin but their bodies were not responding to it. They were generally overweight.
  • Mild obesity-related diabetes (MOD) – This was mainly observed in people who were very overweight, although metabolically more health than those with SIRD.
  • And, mild age-related diabetes (MARD) – This form was linked to older age and tended to be milder and less harmful for patients.

Surprisingly, most specialists already acknowledged the shortcomings of type 1/type 2 split, said Dr Victoria Salem of Imperial College London.

General practice ‘in decline’ as satisfaction drops to record lows

Public satisfaction with general practice has fallen to its lowest level since records began, according to the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey.

The annual survey, which started in 1983, revealed that satisfaction dropped by seven points last year to 65%. Meaning, that for the first time, general practice is not seen as the best NHS service. In 2009 its satisfactory rating was 80%.

The survey – of 3004 people in England, Scotland and Wales – was conducted by the National Centre for Social Research and was analysed by the think tanks Nuffield Trust and the King’s Fund. Reasons for the drop in satisfaction include staff shortages, waiting times, funding concerns and government reforms.

Ruth Robertson, fellow at the King’s Fund, said: ‘The public used to put GPs on a pedestal. But since 2009, when there was an 80% satisfaction rating, it has been steadily declining.

‘It shows the impact of the huge pressure on GPs and the public is responding to that.’

Speaking to the BBC, Prof John Appleby of the Nuffield Trust, said: ‘These results should make the government sit up and take notice.

‘If they want to see satisfaction rise, my suggestion is they should think seriously now about more money for healthcare over the next few years.’

Ms Robertson said the results risked general practice’s reputation as the ‘jewel in the crown of the NHS’ and that ‘the data sends out an unmistakable message that general practice is in decline’.

Paramedic Prescribing

‘ It has now been announced that the Commission for Human Medicines endorse the recommendations and support independent prescribing for Paramedics. The case for paramedic prescribing now seems to have the support that it needs to change the required legislation and also start planning the educational preparation of paramedic prescribers. This has been too long in the making and something that has been needed to help the health service modernise and indeed like the introduction of other types of prescriber, will help the NHS survive. As we all know from our own journey the change in legislation can take some time but this really is a great development for paramedics to become non-medical prescribers. As other NMP prescribing courses are up and running I hope that their regulator (the HCPC) will look favourably on multiprofessional learning. Having so many different professions in the same classroom helps us all develop a greater understanding of each other’s roles and helps us all develop into better practitioners.
We welcome paramedics joining the AfP and hope that it will help them in their own development as prescribers. I am also sure that having a paramedic on the committee of the AfP would also be beneficial to our organisation. Congratulations to all of those involved for your hard work and let’s hope that the implementation goes smoothly and without too much of a delay’

Professor Matt Griffiths
Independent Consultant Nurse
Advanced Nurse Practitioner
Visiting Professor of prescribing & medicines management

Scotland sees Queen’s Nurses return after 50 years

The prestigious award of Queen’s Nurse has returned to Scotland for the first time in 50 years, marking the latest in a series of awards that began in 1859.

Twenty community nurses have been awarded the title of Queen’s Nurse after being selected in February this year by the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS) and following a nine-month development programme.

Clare Cable, Chief Executive and Nurse Director of QNIS, said: ‘These 20 exceptional individuals can be deservedly proud of being awarded this prestigious title.

‘From the late 1880s, Queen’s Nurses were social reformers who were taking public health into people’s homes to help families take better care of themselves. The modern Queen’s Nurses are building on this proud heritage – sharing this pioneering spirit to improve the health and wellbeing of the communities of Scotland.’

The cohort – drawn from Scotland’s Health Boards and other independent organisations throughout Scotland – included a midwife who works with asylum seeking mothers in Glasgow, a nurse responsible for people in police custody in Edinburgh, and an advanced nurse practitioner working as the only health professional on a small Orkney island.

The decision to reinstate the award in Scotland came after the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI), which represents the rest of the UK, consulted with the QNIS to develop a programme in collaboration with health and social care leaders. The course was designed to help teams provide quality care and to promote health improvement in a variety of communities.

Clare Cable added: ‘Their roles vary, from bringing care to some of society’s most vulnerable and marginalised groups to supporting people in mental distress or end of life care.

‘They represent the geography of Scotland, from rural communities and small islands to concentrated areas within the big cities, but they all demonstrate nursing excellence which makes a real difference to the lives of the people they work with.’

The award winners were presented with a certificate and badge, as all Queen’s Nurses are, during a ceremony in Edinburgh on the 1st December by guest of honour Prue Leith of the Great British Bake Off and Chancellor of Queen Margaret University.

Exclusive analysis: Fears growing over shortage of community nurse training numbers

Concerns that too few public health and community nurses are being trained in England are growing, as new figures indicate a number of universities have seen reductions in the amount of funded course places they are able to offer this year.

The trend is revealed in figures given to Nursing Times in a snapshot survey of higher education institutions. The decrease in training places is in part a “knock-on” effect after the difficulties in recruiting enough nurses to fill courses in the past couple of years, Nursing Times has been told.

The challenge of filling public health nursing programmes has been so great that at least one university has been forced to cancel a programme.

Unions have warned that a range of factors are to blame, including cuts to public health nurse jobs, service changes and financial pressures, and uncertainties about the amount of funding employers receive to cover nurses while they are in full-time training.

Health Education England, which funds the training, has not yet confirmed how many specialist nursing course places it has commissioned for the 2017-18 academic year, due to its long-delayed publication of workforce plans.

Government scraps NHS pay cap

After seven years of wage austerity for nurses, the Government is to scrap the NHS pay cap.

Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, has just confirmed that the cap has been abandoned after months of intense pressure on the government to improve the pay of NHS staff. Mr Hunt, however, refused to say whether future pay awards will match or exceed inflation, which is now stands at around 3%.

Jon Skewes, from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: ‘The RCM very much welcomes today’s announcement by the Secretary of State. However, this cannot be another empty promise by Jeremy Hunt. The time is now to concede NHS Unions’ pay claim on behalf of midwives and all NHS workers and fund it properly.’

Recently, a number of unions demanded that the government not only ‘scrap the cap’, but also award nurses and midwives an £800 pay claim to compensate them for years of declining wages in real terms.

Although the Health Secretary’s comments, made in the House of Commons to the shock of many MPs, are good news for the health sector, he also gave no commitment to increase NHS funding along side removing the cap. Last month when a similar pay cap for police and prison officers was lifted, there was not an accompanying increase in funding that meant that any increases in payment for staff would have to come out of the organisation’s own resources.

According to Mr Skewes: ‘The Government must commit to fully funding a real terms pay increase for Midwives and NHS staff. Anything less will fundamentally damage employment relations in the NHS and will add to the already rock-bottom NHS morale. It will further push midwives out of the profession at a time when we already have a shortage of midwives that is getting worse.’

Non-medical Prescribing in the United Kingdom | Penelope Mary Franklin

The Association for Prescribers are pleased to advise was written by our very own Committee Member Penny Franklin.  Penny Franklin is a  UK National Expert in Non-medical Prescribing and has published widely. She is an Executive Member of the Association of Prescribers and is Prescribing Lead for the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association.  She is a member of the Nurse Prescribers Advisory Group for the British National Formulary. Penny is a Registered General Nurse and a Health Visitor by background and is an Independent and Supplementary Prescriber.  She is a Fellow of the Institute of Health Visiting and the Higher Education Academy. She links to the University of Plymouth, UK as an Associate Professor and Senior Associate Lecturer.

Chapters also provided by AFP committee members Eleri Mills, Andrew Rideout, Sally Jarmain, Alan Borthwick, Sarah Kraszewski and our previous chair member Dr Barbara Stuttle CBE.

This book explores key developments in Non-medical Prescribing in the UK. Addressing the needs of countries in the European Market and beyond, which have been closely watching UK developments and would be interested in embedding or developing counterparts of their own.

Featuring chapters by clinicians, leaders and practitioners in the UK Non-medical Prescribing arena, it identifies both current and potential future developments. Attention is paid to the different prescribing practices and governance within the four countries constituting the United Kingdom.  Many lessons have been learned along the way and the purpose of this book is to share these lessons, together with best practice examples in connection with the implementation of nurse/health professional led patient care, implementation of patient centered practice, and governance.

Designated Registered Practitioners who have completed an enhanced training now receive a professional body qualification which enables them to prescribe within their scope of practice as Non-medical Independent Prescribers and, providing that they are competent, from anywhere within the British National Formulary independently of doctors; for Nurses, this also includes most controlled drugs.

The book will be of interest to policy makers and to forward-looking professionals and practitioners in the diverse European Health and Social Care market.

A 20% discount will be available to members of the AFP when this book is released.

Healthcare staff wary of hepatitis B risk in vaccine shortage

A shortage of the hepatitis B vaccine has forced Public Health England (PHE) to limit usage to only those who are at the ‘highest immediate risk’.

Shortages of vaccines all over the world have forced other countries to take similar measures, as manufacturing issues have caused delays in continued production. Measures are expected to continue until 2018.

People travelling from the UK to high-risk countries may not be able to get the vaccine before leaving the country as babies born to hepatitis B-positive mothers, and other high-risk groups are prioritised to limit usage to those who need it most.

Sexual partners of infected individuals, men who have sex with men, healthcare workers, and people who inject drugs are among those deemed at the highest risk of being exposed.

A PHE spokesperson said: ‘The manufacturers are getting more stock in but there has been an issue for a while so that’s why we have put this prioritisation guidance into place. We know that the hepatitis B vaccine takes a long time and is quite difficult to manufacture.

‘We will make sure those who really need the vaccine will get it, and those who are less at risk should get it at a later date. It’s important to note that we are a very low risk country for hepatitis B, and the most at risk group are babies.’

Individuals have been advised they can reduce their risk by avoiding having unprotected sex, not injecting drugs, or sharing needles when injecting, avoiding having tattoos, piercings or acupuncture when overseas, and avoiding accessing medical or dental care in high-prevalence countries.

Boost in training places ‘will do little’ to solve recruitment crisis

The ‘biggest ever expansion’ of the NHS medical workforce will be brought on by an increase in the number of training positions, according to the government’s latest announcement.

As part of its bid to train 1,500 extra doctors a year, the Department of Health will continue its drive next year by will offer 500 new places and mark out another 1,000 for organisations who will ‘bid’ to target candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Working with Health Education England, the government is also aiming to offer clinical placement funding for the training of 10,000 extra nurses and midwives, with some positions available as soon as this year.

Extra places for nurses, midwives, doctors and allied health professionals will see approximately 100,000 training places available between now and 2020 in a 11% increase on current figures, according to the government.

‘We’re committed to giving more talented students the chance to be part of our world-class NHS workforce,’ said health minister Philip Dunne. ‘Not only is this the biggest ever expansion to the number of doctor training places, but it’s also one of the most inclusive.

‘For too long, a cap on training places has meant thousands of talented students are rejected from university courses each year despite meeting requirements for medicine or nursing. These students will now be able to fulfill their potential as our future NHS nurses, midwives and allied health professionals.’