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Five years after Mid Staffs nursing numbers continue to fall

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Government plans to boost the number of trainee nurses in the wake of the Francis report are failing, warns the Royal College of Nursing.

Five years after the landmark Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry the government is failing to boost the number of doctor and nurses in practice and statistics show vacancies at an all-time high.

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A further fall in would-be nurses starting training can be expected this September after new UCAS figures today, contained in a report by the RCN, reveal a second decline in applications.

Changes to the funding of nurse training – including the removal of the student bursary – were announced in 2015 as a way to increase nurse numbers. Last year, Ministers repeatedly announced extra nurse training places but they are not finding enough students to fill them, the analysis shows.

Seven hundred fewer students began training last year after the overhaul of nurse education. Today’s report shows the number of applications is continuing to fall this year and, without action to increase numbers, a fall in trainees is expected.

The Government must offer incentives to find tomorrow’s nurses, the RCN’s report says. It comes after a separate analysis found the current nursing workforce is shrinking and at least 40,000 vacancies in England’s NHS.

The current number of applications for the next academic year has fallen by a third (33 percent) since the same point in 2016 – 43,720 down to 29,390 and by 4,310 (13 percent) on last year alone.

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In addition to the university student shortages, the new nursing apprenticeship attracted only 30 trainees against a Government ambition of 1,000 apprentices this year.

Five years after the Francis report into Mid Staffordshire blamed unsafe nurse levels for poor care, Janet Davies says the Government has ‘squandered’ the opportunity to address the issue. Similar care failings will become more likely as a consequence, the RCN Chief Executive warns.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said:

“Nursing is a wonderful career but the Government must do more to make it attractive to the tens of thousands of new nurses we need. If Ministers fail, they are storing up unimaginable problems for the future. The staffing crisis must be stopped from spiralling further.

“Extra university places are only worthwhile if they are filled and the NHS gets a newly trained nurse. When it is haemorrhaging so many experienced people, this has never been more important.

“Five years after the warnings and lessons in the Mid Staffs report, the Government is still squandering the chance to address the issue – making care failings more likely, not less. The Government knows that when there aren’t enough nurses, patients can pay the very highest price.

“Nursing is now a graduate profession but it lacks a graduate salary that compensates for the fees paid. With fair pay and other incentives, Ministers must redouble efforts to get students into nursing courses this year.”

Ministers must encourage would-be nurse students to apply before the summer in order to boost the numbers joining England’s nursing workforce in 2021. The report, Left to chance, calls for an urgent national campaign organised by the Department of Health and Social Care and Health Education England.

The decision to leave the European Union is added incentive for Britain to train its own nurses and rely less on expensive and challenging international recruitment. The report also sets the current falls against the widely expected increases in demand from an ageing population.

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NHS staff top list of those applying for payday loans

Nursing unions say years of cuts to NHS funding and pay restraint for NHS workers is to blame.

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NHS staff are among those most likely to rely on payday loans, suggests a study.

The payday loans study, which was commissioned by short-term credit broker CashLady, found that NHS staff were significantly more likely to apply for payday loans than workers at any other organisation.

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After NHS workers, supermarket workers at Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s, followed by staff at McDonald’s, Morrisons, Royal Mail and finally the British Army.

StepChange, the debt charity, says that the loans, which charge interest of up to 1,325% per year, are not a debt solution and can make your financial situation worse – the charity advises the majority of people to avoid using such services.

Nursing unions say years of cuts to NHS funding and pay restraint for NHS workers is to blame.

Gerry O’Dywer, Employment Relations Advisor at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “These figures reveal the financial pressure nursing staff are under. Years of pay cuts left them struggling to make ends meet.

“The health service cannot keep losing valuable highly-trained staff because they can’t afford to pay the bills each month. The proposed NHS Pay Deal would give NHS staff the largest pay rise in ten years – it will go some way in helping nursing staff and preventing nurses from leaving the profession.

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“The RCN’s own Lamplight Support Service also provides tailored financial advice and support for nursing staff.”

Sara Gorton, Unisons Head of Health, said; “No-one should be so desperate for money that they have no option but to go cap in hand to unscrupulous lenders, who offer quick and easy money at sky-high rates of interest that can take a lifetime to pay back.

“It’s a terrible state of affairs that NHS workers are so strapped for cash they don’t have enough money to get through the month, and have to go deep into debt trying. It shows how much harm years of government pay restraint has caused.”

NHS employers suffering with debt can contact their union or a national debt charity for advice and assistance.

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Mobile Stroke Unit will see patients receive life-saving care faster than ever

This the first time a Mobile Stroke Unit, a concept developed by the University of the Saarland in Germany, has been tested in the UK.

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Southend University Hospital is undertaking the trial of a Mobile Stroke Unit which will see patients receive life-saving care faster than ever.

The Mobile Stroke Unit, which has an onboard CT scanner and blood-testing equipment, will be staffed by stroke and imaging experts who can diagnose and start treating patients with suspected stroke at the scene.

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This the first time a Mobile Stroke Unit, a concept developed by the University of the Saarland in Germany, has been tested in the UK.

Lead Stroke Consultant at Southend, Dr Paul Guyler explains its importance: “It’s widely known that ‘time is brain’ when it comes to stroke.  When a patient is suspected to have had a stroke a CT scan is essential to allow specialists to determine whether the patient has a blood clot in the brain, a bleed in the brain or something else. 

“The scan determines the diagnosis and what treatment happens next, and the Mobile Stroke Unit brings the scanner and the clinicians to the patient.”

Should a stroke be diagnosed, life-saving clot-busting medications can be administered to the patient quicker than ever before.

The Trust was offered the opportunity, to test the specialist ambulance in the community for a short period of time.  This was made possible because of the of the strong links between Consultant Interventional Neuroradiologist Professor Iris Grunwald, who works at the Trust and also holds the post of Director of Neuroscience at Anglia Ruskin University School of Medicine, and her colleagues at the University of the Saarland, Germany who are supplying the vehicle free of charge.

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The unit will be based at Southend to ensure safety and governance standards are met and Professor Grunwald has been working with the Trust’s stroke team to put plans into place.  Anglia Ruskin University and the team will be evaluating the information collected during the project. 

Professor Grunwald said: “We know that Mobile Stroke Units work in a densely populated city through trials carried out in Germany, Norway, Australia and the USA.

“The data and learning we gather during the period the vehicle is in use will be valuable in understanding the benefits and challenges of using a Mobile Stroke Unit in a more suburban or rural area, like we have across mid and south Essex.”

While the project is limited to a three-month period, the stroke team are looking to the future and hope that the information they gather over the 12 weeks will help inform plans to develop stroke services across mid and south Essex.

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UNISON accepts 3% pay deal for Scotland

UNISON Scotland has accepted a 3% pay rise for NHS staff and demands for it to be implemented ‘without delay’.

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UNISON Scotland has accepted a 3% pay rise for NHS staff and demands for it to be implemented ‘without delay’.

During the union’s annual health conference in Brighton today, the union has said it will accept a pay deal which would secure an above-inflation 3% wage rise for the all NHS workers in Scotland and has called for it to be implemented with immediate effect.

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Two weeks ago the Scottish Government tabled a ‘draft pay remit’ which proposes NHS staff earning less than £80,000 will receive 3% increase on pay and allowances.

UNISON Scotland has today announced that they will accept this proposed deal.

Tom Waterson, Chair of the UNISON Scotland Health Committee, said: “It was UNISON’s campaign in health, and across the public sector, which convinced the Scottish government to scrap the pay cap. It has tabled a pay remit paper that says all staff earning less than £80,000 are to receive an immediate 3% increase on pay and allowances, while talks craft a Scottish version of the NHS offer currently being consulted on in England.

“UNISON Scotland accepts the offer of 3% and demands that it‘s implemented without further delay. This agreement is an important first step to securing a Scottish deal for Scottish NHS workers, and we’re determined that it will deliver for our staff and roll back the pain of austerity.

“There appears to be a view that the 2018 pay award should be held off until the NHS pay offer is concluded in England. That is not acceptable. Shona Robison, cabinet secretary for health has committed to giving NHS workers a pay rise, the government has promised 3% and UNISON won’t allow anyone to delay the implementation of that rise.”

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The pay remit is expected to be discussed over the next few days by Scotland’s health unions. If agreed it would secure a “no detriment” deal, ensuring that Scottish NHS workers would not be worse off than their English colleagues, who are currently being balloted on a pay offer in England.

UNISON says it won’t be balloting NHS Scotland members on the England offer, but has committed to do so on the final outcome of Scottish negotiations.

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