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Health Politics

Government “not convinced” about safe staffing legislation

This follows the introduction of safe staffing legislation in Wales and Scotland.

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Health ministers are “not convinced” amending the law would bring about positive change.

The Royal College of Nursing has spent the week lobbying MPs in a bid make the Secretary of State accountable for staffing levels in England.

Over fifty nursing staff and students met with MPs to discuss their concerns about a lack of safe staffing legislation in England and the impact this has on patient care.

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MPs voiced their support for greater accountability for safe staffing and ensuring that there is adequate workforce planning for the future but health ministers are “not convinced” amending the law would bring about positive change.

Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has previously said he would “consider” safe staffing legislation but ward it may have unintended consequences.

The campaign follows the introduction of similar legislation in Wales and Scotland.

Not convinced.

Health Minister Stephen Hammond said he was “not convinced” that amending the law would bring about the changes the RCN was looking for.

He said the Care Act 2014 gave Health Education England responsibilities delegated from the Health and Social Care Secretary to ensure that the NHS had the right number of skilled staff to meet patients’ needs.

He added that ensuring appropriate staffing levels was a “core element” of the Care Quality Commission’s inspection regime.

“I fully support the RCN’s focus on the importance of the NHS workforce, recruitment and retention,” he said. “But I’m not convinced that legislation is always the answer and I’m not convinced that changing legislation will necessarily bring around the changes and the focus the RCN seeks.”

The system is not working.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, said: “40,000 nursing vacancies prove that the current system is not working, and needs reform.

“Today MPs from across the house voiced the undeniable truth that unless we have more staff, health and care services can’t be delivered safely and effectively, let alone reformed.”

“The Government used this opportunity to give support for the principles of achieving clearer and more explicit accountability for staffing health and care services, but does not yet agree with RCN members that this must be in law.

“The incoming Prime Minister and his team will have much to gain by gripping this issue, and much to lose by allowing staff and their patients to bear the cost of further inaction.”

Health Politics

Bill calling for safer staffing legislation put before Parliament

There are now 43,671 vacant nursing posts throughout the NHS in England alone.

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Maria Caulfield

The Bill will seek to “establish legally enforceable nursing staffing levels in the NHS in England.”

Maria Caulfield, Conservative MP for Lewes, nurse and member of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), today brought a Bill designed “to establish legally enforceable nursing staffing levels in the NHS in England.”

The Bill comes as nursing vacancy rates hit a record high with 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone – leaving 12% of full-time nursing posts unfilled.

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In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the RCN highlights the impact the nursing staffing crisis is having on patient safety.

Scotland recently secured new legislation on safe staffing and a nurse staffing law was introduced in Wales in 2016.

‘No one is responsible and no one is accountable’.

Ms Cauldfield said; “There is increasing evidence that the right number of qualified nurses can improve patient outcomes in terms of mortality, morbidity and quality of care and that conversely, an insufficient number of nurses can have a potentially life-threatening effect for patients.”

Presenting the primary aim of the Bill as; “to make the Government accountable for nursing levels in England, as currently no one is accountable for nursing levels in England and that is why we have such a high nursing vacancy rate.”

Before adding that the other aims of the Bill were ensuring the NHS has “a fully costed workforce strategy and nursing numbers” alongside ensuring training and development for nurses throughout their career.

Cauldfield controversially voted against scrapping the pay cap for NHS workers in 2017.

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Health Politics

Labour promises free home-care for the over 65s

People living with dementia currently face the highest costs for care.

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Care worker helping with meals

The over-65s will not have to pay for help with dressing, washing and meals.

The Labour Party is promising free personal care in England for those over-65s who are most in need of it, so they will not have to pay for help with dressing, washing and meals.

Currently, only people with low levels of savings receive publicly-funded personal care and there is state help with home costs and residential assistance for those with assets below £23,250. However, people living with dementia face the highest costs for care.

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They promise to introduce free personal care for all older people, providing help with daily tasks in their own homes and residential care; Free personal care will ensure people with dementia receive the same care as those with other conditions.

Labour claims the move will reduce the burden on unpaid carers and benefit the NHS by reducing delayed transfers of care from hospital and admissions to care homes and hospitals.

A million people are not getting the care they need.

At the Labour conference, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the move would be funded out of general taxation. Also, that cuts to care funding since 2010 had left a million people not getting the care they need and “87 people dying a day waiting for care”.

Subsidising the cost of basic tasks such as getting in and out of bed and going to the toilet will enable more people to continue to live independently in their homes, he said. ” I believe the right to dignity in retirement is a part of that right to health at any stage of life.”

Free personal care is something campaigners have long been calling for in England as Scotland has already introduced it and Wales and Northern Ireland each provide some level of universal entitlement.

In Wales the cost of home care is capped, while in Northern Ireland the over-75s get it for free; Based on Scottish figures, Labour said the move could save those currently self-funding their care almost £10,000 a year while 70,000 fewer families would be liable for “catastrophic” lifetime care costs in excess of £100,000.

Mr McDonnell also pledged to close the gap in social care funding and give local authorities extra support to provide care so services are not outsourced to private firms; The King’s Fund think tank has estimated that free personal care could cost £6bn a year in 2020-21, rising to £8bn by 2030.

The organisation said Labour’s announcement was a welcome step but “it is not the same thing as free social care, and some people would still be left facing catastrophic costs.”

Care services have been pushed to the brink.

Further support to the care workforce has been pledged to ensure that older people receive support from trained staff who have the time and skills needed to provide care; As part of the National Care Service, Labour has pledged to raise standards of care by ending the use of zero-hour contracts and ensuring that carers are paid a real living wage, including for travel time. Also, to end 15-minute care visits and improve access to training and development for care staff.

Barbara Keeley MP, Labour’s Shadow Social Care and Mental Health Minister, said: “Nine years of cuts to local council budgets have pushed care services to the brink. For years, the Tories have failed to bring in much-needed reform, leaving too many people and their families struggling to afford the care they need.

“Tackling the crisis in social care is a priority for Labour. Our plans for social care will address the immediate crisis in care, double the number of people receiving publicly-funded care, and stop people with dementia being treated unfairly by the care system.

“It is vital that social care is a universally-available public service which provides dignity, security and compassionate care. Our National Care Service will have these principles at its core.”

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