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Nurses might be replaced by ‘pharmacists or a physios’ as hospitals struggle to fill vacancies

Ian Snug

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University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust say they are considering using pharmacists or physiotherapists to fill nursing vacancies.

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The University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust is struggling to fill more than 500 nursing vacancies and with that number ever-increasing, they are considering temporarily filling some roles with other staff.

Leicester’s Chief Nurse told the Health Service Journal (HSJ) that the priority is patient care, she suggested options could include having a different ratio of registered nurses on some wards or filling gaps from other staffing groups.

The news comes only days after the RCN called for an “urgent review” of hospital staffing levels after they warned patient safety and dignity is being put at risk by over-stretched services.

On Tuesday, Jeremy Hunt announced a 25% increase in nurse training places, an increase in the number of nursing associates and the introduction of nursing apprenticeships.

Julie Smith, Chief Nurse at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said;

“We have got a scenario where we have 500 vacancies and that is likely to grow.

“We have to make sure patients get the right care. Some of my nurses are doing tasks they don’t need to do, they are cleaning bed spaces and giving out cups of tea, things other people can be trained to do.

“It might be that we replace a nurse with a pharmacist or a physio, I don’t know yet. It depends on the level of care and the type of wards they are on.

“When we know what the boundaries for the nursing associates‘ scope of practice will be, it may be that on some of our wards, we do say we can have a different ratio of registered nurses.”

The trust has said that it hasn’t made any final decisions yet and changes would not be brought in without the approval of healthcare regulators.

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RCN members deliver #ScrapTheCap petition to Downing Street

Ian Snug

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Frontline nursing staff today handed a petition of 67,000 names to Downing Street, urging the Government to scrap the cap on public sector pay.

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RCN members – representing every country of the UK – led the Summer of Protest campaign in their local communities.

Michael Coram (London), Kayleigh Peel (West Midlands), Jane Leighton (Northern Ireland), Julie Lambeth (Scotland) and Jean Richards (Wales) are RCN Pay Champions and spent the summer promoting the Scrap the Cap campaign, distributing campaign materials and organising events at hospitals and in public spaces.

The petition’s signatures were collected on 67,000 postcards, which were completed during the Summer of Protest, at events held in towns and cities. If stacked end-to-end the postcards would reach more than one and a half times the height of Mount Everest. The petition was accompanied by a letter from Michael Brown, Chair of RCN Council.

The campaign saw thousands of nurses join together to protest against the 1% pay cap, which has caused nursing pay to fall by 14% in real-terms since 2010, leaving them £3,000 a year worse off.

It highlighted that low pay has stood in the way of attracting enough staff to provide safe patient care. With 40,000 nursing vacancies in England alone and more nurses leaving than joining the profession, it is vital the Government ends the pay cap to prevent the nursing workforce from shrinking even further.

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

“Nurses from all corners of the UK have shown the Government that they are a force to be reckoned with. Throughout the summer they campaigned tirelessly to end the cap which has cut their pay year-on-year.

“Our members in front of the famous door today and everybody across the UK should be proud of their achievements. The Government has listened to them and has categorically said they are scrapping the pay cap.

“This petition shows huge levels of public support for nurses, who work so hard to provide care for patients in the midst of a staffing crisis and increasing pressures in the NHS.

“Their next pay offer must not come in below inflation and Ministers must not ask the NHS to make other cuts to pay for it.”

After mounting pressure from the RCN, the public, other trade unions and MPs, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, announced in the House of Commons on October 10 that the pay cap will be scrapped.

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RCN warns of a “dangerous blind-spot” in dealing with assaults on NHS staff

Sarah J

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The Government has confirmed they will no longer collect information when NHS staff are assaulted.

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Health ministers will no longer collect information on NHS staff
assaults, the Government confirmed for the first time on the eve of a
Commons debate. A decision stands in contrast to the Home Office, which monitors assaults on police officers.

The Royal College of Nursing has warned that the move leaves the Government blind to the scale of the problem and risks a further deterioration.

The news comes only a week after Unison said it had concerned that cuts to mental health service were leaving staff vulnerable to violence and aggression.

MPs will today debate a Private Member’s Bill to strengthen the
law against people who assault emergency workers.

The Department of Health confirmed that the NHS and Government will not
continue to collect assaults figures – previously gathered and released
by NHS Protect. Ministers scrapped the body in the current fiscal
year without detailing where responsibility will fall.

The legislation will double the maximum sentence for common assault from
six months to a year if committed against an emergency worker while on
duty.

Last year, a survey of RCN members found more than half had
experienced physical or verbal abuse from patients and a further 63%
from patients’ relatives or other members of the public.

Final figures from NHS Protect showed a 4% rise in physical assaults
against healthcare workers in England from 67,864 in 2014/15 to 70,555
in 2015/16.

Figures from NHS Protect show that only 10 per cent of physical
assaults, unrelated to a medical condition such as a mental health
problem or dementia, result in criminal sanctions.

Kim Sunley, RCN Senior Employment Relations Advisor, said;

“This creates a dangerous blind spot for ministers hoping to tackle the increasing number of assaults in the NHS. It is totally inadequate to rely on optional surveys, especially if the law is being tightened.

“The official body, before it was disbanded, warned Ministers the level of assaults was rising. It should not have been removed and the Government must take their role more seriously.

“This bill represents a vital step towards achieving that, but without the ability to fully monitor the figures, it will be difficult to
quantify the scale of the problem, or the effectiveness of any new law.”

NICE estimated in 2015 that attacks on staff cost the NHS £69 million a
year through absence, loss of productivity and additional security –
equal to the cost of employing about 1,800 nurses.

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