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.
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.”
One in six nursing associates drop out before qualifying, finds report
Despite this trainees showed “high levels of enthusiasm and commitment to the programme”.
Only 65% of trainee nursing associates said they planned to work as a nursing associate once qualified.
An independent evaluation of the nursing associate role commissioned by Health Education England (HEE) has found that while there are “high levels of enthusiasm and commitment to the programme”, one in six nursing associates are dropping out before completing the course.
Attrition rates for trainee nursing associates fell slightly below that of student nurses, with 18% leaving before completing the course.
While ill health and personal issues were some of the most common reasons for leaving the programme, nearly a quarter (23%) withdrew because they failed to meet the academic requirements of the programme – with numeracy skills cited as a key issue.
One trainee said they found the “attitudes towards the role and the negative feedback about Nursing Associates” challenging.
Only 65% of trainees said they intend to continue working as a nursing associate once qualified as the programme is often seen as a stepping stone to becoming a registered nursing.
Mark Radford, Chief Nursing Officer, Health Education England said the report “highlights some challenges that we must address to ensure that students such as ensuring the quality and oversight of placements, attrition and numeracy support.”
“We also recognise that further work and research is required to ensure that the profession is supported and utilised in the workforce of health and social care as part of the MDT. I am pleased to be able to report that we are in the process of identifying candidates to be considered as NA ambassadors across England.
Commenting on the report, Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar for the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), said; “Having had the pleasure of meeting many nursing associates across the country, I am continually inspired by their enthusiasm and dedication for providing care and they should be very proud of the difference they make for the people they support.”
“I look forward to seeing how nursing associates continue to develop and be supported in their work, long into the future.”
UCAS accused of having an ‘outdated’ view on nurses
They describe the nursing role to prospective students as looking after people when they are sick or injured.
UCAS describes nurses as providing “support to doctors and other medical staff”.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has been accused of having an “outdated” view on nurses after it described the profession as providing “support to doctors and other medical staff”.
UCAS describes the nursing role to prospective students as looking after people when they are sick or injured. Adding; “You’ll provide support to doctors and other medical staff, take blood and urine samples, and in some cases, you may carry out minor surgical procedures.”
Nurses, alongside a multitude of other healthcare professionals, have taken to social media calling for the description to be amended so it “adequately reflects nursing in the 21st century”. They also criticised the article for failing to highlight a large number of health promotion and research roles frequently undertaken by the profession.
BJ Walto, a senior member of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) commented that the description is “inaccurate, demeaning and totally misleading portrayal of nursing.”
Tom Wavlin, a Lecturer in Adult Nursing & Admissions Tutor at the University of Plymouth, suggested the description could instead read; “an autonomous practitioner of nursing who works closely with other healthcare professionals”.
In comparison, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) website reads; “Registered nurses play a vital role in providing, leading and coordinating care that is compassionate, evidence-based, and person-centred. They are accountable for their own actions and must be able to work autonomously, or as an equal partner with a range of other professionals, and in interdisciplinary teams.”
A spokesperson for UCAS said; “It’s clear that our current role profile for nurses doesn’t reflect the amazing work that nurses across the country do each day, and we welcome the feedback we’ve recently received.
“We want to make sure that students considering their future options have up-to date information about all different careers available to them.
“We’re currently updating all of our job profiles and are in touch with nursing experts to help us make sure that we better reflect the roles and responsibilities of nurses today.”
UPDATE (17/10/19 09:55): This article was updated to include a comment from UCAS.
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