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Scotland plans to introduce minimum safe staffing laws

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The Scottish government has today announced it will launch a consultation on plans to introduce nursing and midwifery minimum safe staffing laws.

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon fist announced plans to hold a consultation on minimum nurse and midwife staffing levels at the Royal College of Nursing’s congress.

The announcement follows the introduction of the ‘Nurse Staffing Act’ in Wales, which will come into force on acute NHS inpatient areas in 2018.

The Scottish government has said it wants to ensure minimum and safe staffing levels to protect both healthcare professionals and patients.

Consultation proposals, which at the Forth Valley Royal Hospital today, reinforced the claim there is a  “clear link” between safe staffing levels and quality care.

You can get involved in the consultation by giving your views here.

You can download the full consultation document here.

Theresa Fyffe, The Royal College of Nursing’s director in Scotland, says she is “pleased that this consultation gives the public and all those who deliver patient care the opportunity to have their say on the shape and scope of the proposed safe staffing legislation”.

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RCN says the NHS is Supplementing Nurses with Unregistered Staff

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The Royal College of Nursing says that 90% of England’s largest NHS Hospitals are short of Nursing staff and supplementing them with unregistered staff.

The analysis of data on the NHS Choices website by the Royal College of Nursing had confirmed that a large proportion of NHS hospitals are short of Nurses.

The RCN says the data demonstrates that NHS hospitals are supplementing Registered Nurses by putting more unregistered staff on shift. They explain that with the situation is worse at night when two-thirds of the largest hospital trusts put more health care assistants on the wards than planned.

These findings support the RCN’s recent research highlighting 40,000 nurse vacancies across the NHS in England despite NHS Digital only having adverts for 11,500 vacancies.

Janet Davies, RCN Chief Executive, said the findings showed patients were being put at risk and called on the Government to increase the number of nurses.

“These startling figures show that, despite the Government’s rhetoric, our largest hospitals still do not have enough nurses and that is putting patients at risk.

“In light of this, the Government must redouble its efforts to train and recruit more qualified nurses and stop haemorrhaging the experienced ones who are fed up, undervalued and burning out fast.”

Janet went on to add it is unreasonable to expect unregistered staff to fill staffing gaps.

“It is unfair on the healthcare assistants too – they should not be left in a situation they have not been trained to handle.

“Nurses have degrees and expert training and, to be blunt, the evidence shows patients stand a better chance of survival and recovery when there are more of them on the ward.

The RCN has, once again, reiterated the need for safe staffing legislation to be brought into force in England – who have fallen behind both Scotland and Wales.

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‘Thousands’ of funded training places for Student Nurses & Midwives announced

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The Government has announced ‘up-to’ 10,000 extra funded places for student nurses, midwives and allied health professionals in England by 2020.

The Department of Health says that it plans to reinvest some of the annual £1.2bn it will save after removing bursaries from student nurses, midwives and allied healthcare professionals back into training new healthcare professionals.

This news comes only a week after the official end to the NHS Bursary system in England.

‘Extra’ university places will be available for a range of healthcare roles including; nursing, midwifery, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. The actual number of places will be officially revealed next week when universities begin to fill empty spaces on their courses through their clearing process.

Health Education England (HEE) has previously claimed it received no extra money to fund more clinical placements in the 2017-18 academic year but changes to the way educational placements work could be to blame.

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

“There just aren’t enough nurses in training to fill the thousands of vacant posts, and the removal of student nurse funding is only driving down applications further. Meanwhile, the pay cap is forcing many nurses out of the profession they love”.

Many claim the move is part of a bigger plan to create more ‘homegrown’ nurses as the government fails to reassure nurses from the EU that they will be welcome post-brexit.

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