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NHS chief sends a video message to staff working over Christmas



Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, today thanked staff who are caring for patients over Christmas, and for all their work over a “pressurised year” for the NHS.

On Christmas day alone an estimated 97,000 nurses and 53,000 nursing assistants will be working in hospitals whilst 12,000 midwives are expected to welcome around 1,400 Christmas babies into the UK.

Around 12,000 ambulance staff, including paramedics, will be on duty on Christmas day. In addition, around 176,000 care workers and home carers will be giving up their Christmas day, whilst an army of caterers will produce around 400,000 Christmas dinners to enable patients in hospital to tuck into a festive feast.


It comes after a year that has seen NHS, and other emergency services staff, have demonstrated their bravery, dedication and skill in response to the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester and the Grenfell tragedy.

In a video message released on social media today Simon Stevens praised the contribution of all those, from porters to consultants and nursing leaders, who give up precious time with their families to look after the most vulnerable over the holidays.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said:

“Christmas and New Year is a time when most families are celebrating together with friends, but for hundreds and thousands of NHS staff – for ambulance crews, for A&E nurses, for doctors, for catering assistants, for mental health teams – people are coming into work and are looking after some of the most vulnerable people in our country.

“Christmas Day will also see the NHS staff welcoming into the world around 1,400 newborn babies – an experience my wife and I shared when our own son was born in an NHS hospital on Christmas Day.

“2017 in many ways has been a very pressurised time for the NHS and for you, our staff. Looking to 2018, the NHS is going to be celebrating its 70th anniversary. But as we do that we want to take a moment to say on behalf of everybody in this country a huge thank you to all of you, who are working over the holiday period, putting other people first and making the difference to countless millions of people’s lives – thank you.”

July 5 2018 will mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS and there will a number of ways the public, NHS staff and partners can get involved, recognising the valuable contribution that the NHS has made over the decades and looking ahead to its future.

Follow #NHS70 for details as they become available.


Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk

It can be “dangerous” when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.



Patient Falls Risk with IV

There are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone.

NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The College says a global shortage of nurses alongside the removal of the nursing bursary has compounded this figure which now sees 12% of posts through the NHS in England without a full-time Registered Nurse.


Figures from the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 29% overall decline in applications to undergraduate courses since 2015, when the bursary was cut by the Government.

In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the Royal College of Nursing outlines the evidence of the need for a new law that allocates specific legal responsibilities for workforce planning and supply.

A new law is needed.

The report states that in order to address the record number of vacancies, and the gap between the numbers of health and care staff needed to deliver patient care vs. how many are in the system.

Figures included in the report reveal that the number of nursing staff has consistently failed to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for services and the number of emergency admissions.

The report finally makes a further call for legal clarity on the roles, responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, for workforce planning and supply.

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the Government for clarity over who is accountable for the nursing workforce.

‘Nurses are working harder than ever’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in.

“We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

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NHS calls for clarity on who is accountable for the nursing workforce

Figures suggest there are around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England.



Working nurses in the CCU

Healthcare leaders are calling for legislation to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have called on the Government to clarify who is accountable for the nursing workforce and the chronic problems it’s currently facing.

Following ongoing pressure from nursing unions, the two organisations met today and recommend that the government should “revisit with partners whether national responsibilities and duties in relation to workforce functions are sufficiently clear.”


With around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England and thousands more throughout social care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should be legally accountable for the workforce.

Along with other health care leaders, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, written to the Government calling for the legislation proposed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

Staff shortages have reached ‘alarming levels’.

Responding to the news, Dame Donna Kinnair said: “We are pleased that NHS England and NHS Improvement has recognised the concerns of RCN members and the public and has stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.”

“In the week after we have launched a major public facing campaign calling for investment in the nursing workforce as well as for accountability to be clarified in the law, yet again, the case is made for this to be taken seriously.

“We are clear that government is well placed to determine how accountability can be clarified in law.

Adding; “Staff shortages have reached alarming levels with at least 40,000 vacant registered nurse posts in the NHS in England alone with thousands more vacancies in public health and social care.

“We now hope government will listen to this message, as well as the voices of the thousands of members that responded to the NHS England engagement process, and bring forward this legislation, taking the opportunity to include accountability in government and throughout the health and care system, for workforce planning and supply.”

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