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Health Politics

Jeremy Hunt promoted to Foreign Secretary

The news comes alongside a significant shake-up in the Conservative party over Brexit.

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Jeremy Hunt has been promoted to Foreign Secretary and replaced by Matt Hancock.

Jeremy Hunt, the former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has been named as the new Foreign Secretary after after the resignation of Borris Johnson earlier today.

Mr. Hunt has spent the last seven years as Health Secretary – the longest anybody has ever held the role. It was rumored earlier this year that Mr. Hunt was preparing for a leadership bid should Theresa May step down.

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The news comes alongside an impromptu ‘mini-reshuffle’ by Theresa May, following the shock resignations of senior cabinet ministers David Davis and Boris Johnson earlier today.

The news comes on the same day that a major survey by Nursing Standard and the Sunday Mirror revealed that two-thirds of nurses say that patient care has deteriorated significantly in the past five years.

New Health Secretary has been named.

Matt Hancock has been named as the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Hancock previously worked as an economist for the Bank of England before becoming an economic advisor to George Osbourne and later his Chief of Staff. He has previously assumed a number of ministerial posts under both David Cameron and Theresa May.

Mr. Hancock has been serving as the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport since January 2018.

A statement from Downing Street this evening said: “The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.” and “pleased to approve the appointment of the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.”

In a statement on social media, Mr Hancock said; “Really looking forward to joining The Department of Health and Social care at such an important time for our great NHS. I can’t wait to get started”.

Education

£200 million NHS training budget could be lost to the private sector

Around a third of NHS trusts are paying apprentices just £3.90 per hour – the statutory minimum rate.

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NHS hospital corridor

Money paid by NHS trusts is now being “clawed back by the government”.

More than £200m is lying unused by cash-strapped health trusts in England because of restrictions in the Government’s apprenticeship levy scheme.

The restrictions mean that money from the levy can only be used to fund training costs and not salaries – meaning already cash-strapped organisations are unable to recruit additional staff.

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Around a third of NHS trusts are paying apprentices just £3.90 per hour – the statutory minimum rate.

According to the UNISON report, It Doesn’t Add Up, 79% of the levy money is yet to be used and warns that if this trend continues substantial NHS funding will be lost.

Levy money not spent after two years is reallocated to a central Government pot and used to subsidise apprenticeships for smaller employers – who don’t have to pay into the levy. This means cash from NHS budgets being diverted into the private sector.

Millions sat idle while there are 100,000 vacancies.

UNISON is now calling for the Government to change the rules so levy funding can also be spent on apprentice salaries and the wages of staff employed to cover for apprentices when they are training.

They have also suggested that the money could be used to fund a new extensive apprenticeship programme across the entire NHS for nursing and all the other health professions experiencing shortages.

Sara Gorton, Head of Health at UNISON, said; “Hundreds of millions of pounds are sitting idle at a time when budgets are stretched and there are 100,000 vacancies across the NHS,”.

“There are real concerns about the standard of training apprentices receive, with many carrying out administrative and clinical support roles for peanuts. Ministers must reform the system to ensure money allocated to the health service stays within the NHS and invest properly to ensure apprenticeships play a full role in solving the growing staffing crisis.”

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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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