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Hunt tells parliament the 1% pay cap for nurses has officially been scrapped

Ian Snug

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Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Parliament today that the 1% public sector pay cap has been officially scrapped.

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Mr Hunt told Parliament today; “I can give you good news. The pay cap has been scrapped”, but refused to reveal how any pay award would be funded. However, unions say that any pay award must be fully funded.

The Health Secretary said the cap had been necessary to fund 11,300 more doctors and a similar number of extra nurses on the wards, but admitted that it is no longer sustainable.

Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, previously stated there would be more “flexibility” over the pay of public sector workers but was criticised by the RCN for not explicitly scrapping the cap.

Healthcare unions, including The Royal College of Nursing and Unison, are calling for a fully-funded 3.9% pay rise for a million NHS staff.

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

“Jeremy Hunt has listened to the tens of thousands of nurses who made their feelings clear and we thank him for today’s categorical statement.

“He has put beyond all doubt that the pay cap is scrapped after a summer-long campaign by the RCN. Our members in every corner of the UK fought hard and can be proud of this achievement.

“The cap held pay below inflation and gave nurses year-on-year pay cuts. With a staffing crisis building, the Government is right to lift it.

“The next pay offer must not come in below inflation and Ministers cannot ask the NHS to make other cuts to pay for it – services must be given extra funding to cover the cost.”

Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary, said;

“Scrapping the pay cap is the right thing to do, but it’s only meaningful if workers receive proper pay rises. The government’s announcement looks worryingly like a smoke and mirrors move, with talk of ‘productivity improvements’. NHS staff, patients and services shouldn’t be made to suffer to fund a pay rise.

“And the government can’t cherry pick lifting the cap for health workers. This cap has to be scrapped, and replaced with decent pay rises, for all public service workers.”

Unions have been preparing to ballot members for industrial action if the scrap was not lifted by the time of the autumn budget on Wednesday 22 November.

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NMC says regulation for nursing associates moves a step closer

James M

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The Nursing and Midwifery Council say regulation for nursing associates is getting closer and is expected by July 2018.

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The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has welcomed the Department of Health’s consultation on proposed changes to its legislation to enable the regulation of nursing associates.

The consultation follows the decision of the NMC’s Council to agree to regulate the new role, following a request from the Secretary of State for Health in January 2017.

Earlier this month the NMC released it’s draft standards of proficiency for Nursing Associates.

Jackie Smith, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said:

“This consultation is a vital step towards the NMC becoming the regulator of nursing associates.

“It’s always been our ambition to open the register to nursing associates in January 2019, when the first trainees qualify. But in order to do so, it’s critical that Government drives through the necessary changes to our legislation, to ensure that we’re able to protect the public from the moment the first qualified nursing associates begin to practise.”

The NMC expects the necessary changes to its legislation to come into force by July 2018. This will give the regulator six months until the first trainees qualify to complete the activities that need to be in place in order to open the register. This includes approving the NMC’s Rules and fees, approval of the final nursing associate standards and approval of nursing associates programme providers.

The consultation, Regulation of Nursing Associates in England, will run from 16 October to 26 December.

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Snacks sold in hospital shops should be under 250 calories

James M

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Image: Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

NHS England says snacks sold in hospitals canteens or shops should all be under 250 calories.

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NHS Hospitals will be given cash incentives to comply with a new ‘healthy eating’ campaign which will see a significant reduction in the number of sugary snacks, drinks and confectionary inside hospital shops and canteens.

The proposals will also extend to sandwiches, which must be under 400 calories, and all other pre-packed savoury meals, which should contain no more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g. Cans and bottles of sugary soft drinks are also covered by the ban, as well as sugary drinks made in cafes and canteens such as coffees with sugar syrup.

Hospital chiefs will need to ensure that 80% of items sold do not exceed the 250-calorie limit in order to receive the cash bonus.

It is unknown if this ban will extend to third-party organisations such as Costa Coffee and Starbucks.

Research has suggested that almost 700,000 of 1.3 million NHS employees are overweight or obese.

Last year, controversial expert hypnotist Steve Miller said healthcare professionals should lead the fight against the fat and wants overweight NHS staff to carry ‘I’m fat, but I’m losing it’ badges to inspire patients and colleagues.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said:

“The NHS is now stepping up action to combat the super-size snack culture which is causing an epidemic of obesity, preventable diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease and cancer. “In place of calorie-laden, sugary snacks we want to make healthier food an easy option for hospital staff, patients and visitors.”

NHS England has pledged to boost the sale of healthy foods and end promotions of sugary and fatty or salty foods at checkouts.

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