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Labour calls for £500m emergency ‘winter bailout fund’ for NHS

Ian Snug

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Labour will call for the government to commit a £500m “winter bailout fund” for the NHS over the coming months.

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Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow Health Secretary, says the money is needed to increase capacity in struggling hospitals and pay for extra staff as the NHS faces the worst winter on record.

He also said it was Labour’s “ambition” to return NHS funding increases to the same level as during the 1997-2010 Labour governments.

Mr Ashworth claims that Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, and Theresa May have failed to provide an adequate plan to how the NHS is preparing, for what is expected to be, the worst winter on record for the health and social care service. 

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, said:

“Any bailout money this winter should be used to bolster frontline staff and help ensure safe patient care. Having the right number of nurses is key to treating people effectively and safely.

“Yet too many hospitals are chronically short of nursing staff. As demand increases over the winter months,  it’s patients who will pay the price unless something is done.

“Properly funding the NHS is a political choice – it should not reach the stage where a last-minute bailout is required to keep people safe.”

The Shadow Health Secretary will use a speech to the Labour party conference today to call for the extra funding.

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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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