Tag Archives: news

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.’

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.’

More children’s palliative care nurses needed

October 2016

A shortage in palliative children’s nurses is resulting in reduced care for families, finds children’s palliative care charity Together for Short Lives.

Nurses vacancy rates in children’s palliative care voluntary sector is currently 10%, higher than the 7% vacancy rate in NHS nurses. The charity’s annual vacancy survey shows the negative impact on services is increasing year on year. The shortage is resulting in closing beds, reducing respite and affecting continuity of care.

In 2014, 43% of respondents said they reduced the service offered to families as a result of vacancies, in 2015 this had increased to 65% reporting their vacancies were affecting the amount of care they can offer to families.

‘We need to encourage more nurses to join a brilliantly committed, intelligent and hard working group of children’s palliative care nurses who are dedicating their skills and passion to caring for and supporting children, young people and their families,’ Barbara Gelb, CEO of Together for Short Lives said.

UK heading for a major nursing shortage

July 2016

A third of nurses intend to retire in the next ten years, and with a lack of nurses being trained, the UK faces a huge shortage of nurses in the near future.

This was the conclusion of a report into the nursing workforce by the Institute of Employment Studies, which also found that safe staffing levels and increasing healthcare demands on NHS services have increased the demand for nurses. At the same time, NHS providers have faced greater financial difficulties making recruitment more challenging.

‘This was a preventable crisis, caused by years of cuts to student nurse commissions and a lack of long-term workforce planning,’ said Janet Davies, chief executive of the RCN.

According to the report, the government has failed to fund enough training places for nurses, meaning that the NHS is increasingly reliant on nurses from overseas, who currently make up 12.5% of the workforce. After the decision to leave the EU in June, concerns have been raised that the EU nurse workforce could be at risk.

Diane Abbott appointed shadow health secretary

June 2016

Diane Abbott, the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington has been named shadow health secretary, after Heidi Alexander resigned from the Labour frontbench.

Ms Abbott has been an MP since 1987 and was the first black woman to be elected to parliament. She has previously served as shadow minister for public health under Ed Miliband, and shadow secretary for international development.

Ms Alexander, the MP for Lewisham East, resigned in the wake of party leader Jeremy Corbyn removing Hilary Benn from the role of shadow foreign secretary. She was elected to parliament in 2015, before being appointed shadow health secretary in September 2015, after Mr Corbyn’s election.

New guidance for mental health nurses to address physical health needs

May 2016

New guidance for mental health nurses to address physical health needs.

A number of action areas such as smoking cessation, obesity, alcohol abuse, physical activity, dental health and medication adherence were highlighted as key areas where mental health nurses can make a significant impact.

Each area outlines why mental health nurses need to take action, the steps they can take with patients to help them and links to other resources. The document aims to ensure that people with mental illness have the same level of access to physical health checks as the rest of the population.