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Patients waiting more than 18 weeks for planned operations hits ten year high

We are seeing the highest figures since August 2008 when the number of people waiting more than 18 weeks stood at 520,564.

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by Chloe Dawson.
Patients waiting more than 18 weeks for planned operations hits ten year high
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The amount of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for planned surgery has hit a ten year high.

Patients waiting for planned operations are paying the price for seeing the NHS through one of the worst winters in recent memory, warns the Royal College of Nursing, as waiting lists hit half a million.

Waiting lists are on the rise following the decision at the beginning of January to delay tens of thousands of operations as the health and social care system struggled to cope with the pressures of a colder than average winter.

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According to the latest figures, in April this year 500,068 people had been waiting more than 18 weeks for planned operations, an increase of more than 30 per cent (382,000) on the same time last year.

This is the highest figure since August 2008 when the number of people waiting more than 18 weeks stood at 520,564.

'A worrying upward trend'.

The April figure marks a worrying upward trend since January 2018, when the waiting list stood at 392,000.

The latest April figures also show the number of patients waiting more than a year has increased 83.8 per cent since the same period last year, from 1,568 to 2,882. This represents a 637 per cent increase from the same period in 2013.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Cancelling non-urgent care may have helped the NHS fight though one of the worst winters in recent memory, but patients in need of elective surgery should not have to pay the price for chronic staff shortages and years of underfunding.

“Half a million people have waited more than 18 weeks for planned care, the highest figure in ten years. And the number waiting more than a year is approaching 3,000. That is truly shameful. For these people, the Prime Minister’s promise of more NHS funding cannot come soon enough.

“But more funding is only half the battle. Addressing the 40,000 nurse vacancies in England alone is not just a question of money, but requires long term workforce planning and a determined focus on improving recruitment and retention.”

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Unions call for pay deal to be extended to the private sector

Thousands of NHS workers, many of whom are the lowest paid, have been excluded from the deal because they are indirectly employed by the NHS.

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by Ian Snug.
Unions call for pay deal to be extended to the private sector

Healthcare unions have warned that a “dangerous imbalance” between sectors could cause harm to patients.

The Royal College of Nursing and Unite have called on the government to ensure the NHS pay deal is extended to those providing NHS services in social care, the private sector and primary care.

The NHS pay deal, formally accepted by healthcare unions earlier this month, will mean at least a 6.5% increase for the majority of NHS staff in England. Pay negotiations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are ongoing.

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However, thousands of NHS workers employed by social enterprises, general practice, social care, arms-length bodies, independent and charitable providers, have been excluded from the deal because they are indirectly employed by the NHS but still have a direct impact on patient care.

Made to feel like the poor relations.

Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, Unite National Officer, said: “Excluding indirectly employed NHS workers from the new pay deal is unjust. It will be a disaster for morale with thousands of low paid NHS workers being made to feel like the poor relations of NHS employees. 

"Regardless of whether an NHS worker is employed by a private company or the NHS, they are still health workers and their contribution to patient’s health must be recognised.”

In a letter to Jeremy Hunt, Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "“I urge you to consider how to address the pay of all nurses and health care assistants providing NHS services, whoever their employer, so that a gap in pay does not result in workers being drawn away from primary, community and social care services.

”This would include those employed by social enterprises, general practice, social care, arms-length bodies, independent and charitable providers.

"I do believe that without this additional funding, we will see a dangerous imbalance of the workforce, which will significantly harm patients of non-NHS services.

"Many of our members delivering NHS services but not employed by NHS organisations complain that they endure poorer working conditions, loss of career and education opportunities,"

"We recommend the establishment of a new and separate national staff council, negotiating for all nurses and care assistants in health and social care who are not directly employed by an NHS organisation."

 

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Government announces £20bn cash boost for NHS services

The Government intends to draw up a 10-year plan for the NHS, which will include "more doctors, more nurses" and "significantly more money going in to the NHS".

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by James M.
Government announces £20bn cash boost for NHS services

Theresa May has announced a £20bn funding increase for the NHS over the next five years.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Ms May stated her intention to draw up a 10-year plan for the NHS, which will include "more doctors, more nurses" and "significantly more money going in to the NHS".

During the interview Ms May said; "Some people may remember seeing a figure on the side of a bus a while back of £350m a week in cash"

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"I can tell you that what I'm announcing will mean that in 2023-24 there will be about £600m a week, more in cash, going into the NHS.

"That will be through the Brexit dividend. The fact that we’re no longer sending vast amount of money to the EU once we leave the EU and we as a country will be contributing a bit more."

The announced comes only months after the NHS took the unprecedented decision to suspend all non-urgent activity in January.

'A welcome birthday present'.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt are to be congratulated on securing this increase, which is a great deal more than some of the sums being talked about earlier this year.  The extra money should enable trusts to invest more in staff and therefore reverse some of the cuts in patient care nurses are reporting to us.

“The extra funding is a welcome birthday present for the NHS, but we need to make sure there are enough candles on the cake. Health economists are saying that only an increase above 4% would have been enough to genuinely transform the NHS into the 21st century service all nurses want. If the PM only gives the health service enough money to jog on the spot, she must not expect great strides forward.”

The Prime Minister has promised that by 2023 an extra £20 billion a year will be available for the NHS in England on top of any rises to keep up with inflation. However, the RCN insists more focus needs to be given to support vulnerable people in the community.

“The Government’s social care cuts have piled pressure onto hospitals,” added Janet. “Investing in home care and local community services helps stop hospitals becoming overwhelmed. Theresa May must be under no illusion that there can be a long-term solution for the NHS without a solution for social care too.”

'We must invest this money wisely'.

Jim Mackey, the former head of NHS Improvement, said; “This settlement is good news for the NHS but we must invest this money wisely and ensure as much as possible impacts positively on frontline patient care.

“Whilst it is clear that many commentators believe the money isn’t enough, I think we need to recognise that it is a huge investment by any standards, especially given where the country is with regards to the wider economy. This is hard fought and we need to give credit where due for securing this investment.

“What is key now is to ensure that the full engagement with the service, patients and staff, starts immediately to work through what we can deliver with this money. We will all want to see improvements countrywide in key access standards, financial stability, better winters than previous years, improvements in cancer, primary care and mental health and, importantly, patient and staff satisfaction. With this investment comes the responsibility to deliver this – without fail.

“We all know that the NHS delivers more, pound for pound than any other health system and I am sure we will continue to do that”.

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Healthcare must be redefined as a safety critical industry, says RCN

Healthcare should be reframed as a safety critical industry in order to avoid errors and improve patient outcomes.

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by Clare Bodell.
Healthcare must be redefined as a safety critical industry, says RCN

The Royal College of Nursing has called for the healthcare sector to be refined as a safety critical industry.

Healthcare should be reframed as a safety critical industry in order to avoid errors and improve patient outcomes, according to written and oral evidence submitted to the Draft Health Services Safety Investigation Bill Committee by the Royal College of Nursing.

Speaking at the Committee hearing earlier today, Dame Professor Donna Kinnair, Director of Nursing, Policy and Practice at the RCN, told MPs and Peers that while the College supports the creation of an independent body to investigate serious patient safety incidents in England, this could only work effectively if healthcare is redefined as a safety critical industry.

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Donna said the Bill in its current form places disproportionate emphasis on blaming individuals, and ignores examining the wider context in which mistakes can happen. As well as blaming frontline professionals for system issues beyond their control, this risks investigations failing to root out the true cause of errors, further compromising patient safety.

In light of the 40,000 nurse vacancies in England alone, the RCN has called for nurse staffing levels at the time of an incident to be reported by the HSSIB for every investigation.

In addition the College has called for concerns raised about staff shortages on shift before the incident to be noted by the investigation.

Safe staffing levels should be enshrined in law.

In England, 71 per cent of NHS day shifts in adult acute wards fell outside the recommended nurse to patient ratio (1:8) standard set out in the NICE guidelines. Of those, 26 per cent shifts had more than 14 patients to one nurse. The RCN has previously called for safe staffing levels to be enshrined in law.

The College also raised concerns that healthcare staff who speak out in HSSIB investigations must be guaranteed a genuine safe space in which to discuss errors. It further recommended that findings of investigations be shared with health and care providers both within the NHS and independent sector, in an anonymised and appropriate way.

Speaking at the hearing, Donna Kinnair, Director of Nursing, Policy and Practice at the RCN, said: “The HSSIB will have to tackle those thorny cultural issues such as lack of staff, which people so often say we can do nothing about. It becomes more and more perverse that we tend not to look at the issues that are right in front of us.

“One of the things we are very clear about is we have an understaffed health service. The fewer nurses you have on duty, the worse patient outcomes you have. Nurses deliver 70 per cent of care. We would be working with HSSIB to make sure safe staffing levels are enshrined in law.

“It’s cheaper and easier to deal with the individual, and place the blame on the individual’s head, but this is not the solution. We can make the system safer.”

Nurses are forced to deliver care in unsafe circumstances.

Speaking outside the hearing, Donna said: “To improve patient safety, HSSIB investigations must root out the true cause of errors including systemic failures by Government and agencies. With staffing levels on many shifts below recommended safety guidelines, it is unjust, and potentially misleading to emphasise individual blame when systems and procedures are at fault. 

“Many nurses already struggle in the knowledge they are forced to deliver care in unsafe circumstances, yet their concerns are often ignored. Investigations should note concerns raised prior to incidents, and must take into account inadequate staffing levels.

“Staff should not be held to account for all care that is delivered, irrespective of resources and funding. Appropriate levels of accountability have to exist at all levels, including Government.”

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