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10 Tips for Nurses & Care Staff Working in Hot Weather

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With the hot weather is set to continue this week it is important we keep both healthcare professionals and patients safe.

It doesn’t matter if you work in a hospital, GP surgery, clinic, theatre or in the community. The hot weather affects us all, increases the risk of dehydration and heat stress for healthcare professionals and patients alike.

If you feel your work environment is too hot you should speak to senior managers and estates department promptly. They have a responsibility to ensure both patients and staff are comfortable – you should ask them to implement your local ‘Heatwave Policy’ and contingency planning procedures.

According to The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Act there are no maximum temperatures but employers must take ‘every possible step’ to ensure their employees are safe and “comfortable”.

Here are a few tips to keep both you, as a nurse or healthcare professional, and your patients safe;

  • Keep hydrated. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. Have water on hand all day and drink little and often. You should verbally encourage other co-workers to do this as well. The appropriate use of IV Fluids should be implemented for patients who are not drinking.
  • Keep a bottle or jug of water nearby. You are more inclined to drink when fluid is readily available. Aim to refill any jugs or bottles every couple of hours.
  • Look at the colour of urine. Dark coloured urine can often signify dehydration as can hypotension. Be vigilant and act on signs of dehydration.
  • Feel fresh. Washing your face or using a cool spray can help you fresh.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks. Caffeine can have a diuretic effect which increases water loss and contributes to dehydration try and stick to water or squash if you can.
  • Keep blinds and curtains drawn. Try to keep your working environment out of direct sunlight.
  • Stay out of the sun. Don’t go out between 11am and 3pm – the hottest part of the day.
  • Wear loose clothing. Wear thin and loose clothing for work if possible – ideally surgical scrubs. Ensure patients are dressed, but appropriately.
  • Work smarter – not harder. Where possible schedule harder work and physically demanding tasks for cooler parts of the day. When this is unavoidable, consider sharing the load / rotating with another co-worker.
  • Take breaks. You’ll need your breaks more than ever! Make effective use of your breaks. Sit, put your feet up and get some fresh air.
  • Open windows at night. The air will be cooler in the evenings or at night. Open windows at this time to bring in some fresh-air.

Don’t suffer in silence. Discuss any concerns you have with senior colleagues and managers. Hospitals, care homes and local authorities should have contingency plans and equipment in place for heatwaves.

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Primary Care

Universities turn to Clearing as Nursing & Midwifery Applications drop by 8%

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UCAS figures show a drop of 8% in applications to Nursing & Midwifery courses – Universities have turned to clearing to fill gaps.

Experts are warning that there will not be enough new healthcare staff being trained to keep pace with demand as UCAS, the University Admissions Service, figures showed that there had been an 8% drop in students who had been placed into university this year compared to 2016.

Universities have been forced to offer the, usually over-subscribed, Nursing, Midwifery and Medicine subjects to students going through clearing.

The figures also reveal the number of ‘mature students’, people aged over 25, who have been placed into nursing courses has decreased by 12% since 2016.

Despite the low number of applicants the government announced 10,000 extra ‘funded’ places and an additional 21,000 mental health professionals. Figures that the Royal College of Nursing have heavily criticised.

Janet Davis, RCN Chief Executive, said;

“The longstanding pay cap is driving people away from nursing, and understaffing heaps pressure on those who are left. Most worryingly, we don’t have enough nurses to guarantee patient safety,” she argued.

“The government has promised 10,000 more health care professionals in the next five years, but we need transparency over how it intends to monitor its progress.

“We are calling on the government to publish the actual number of nursing students starting this autumn by the end of this year.”

Official figures how that admissions to Nursing and Midwifery courses have consistently fallen since the removal of the NHS Student Bursary which combined with a significant drop in EU workers could lead to a staffing crisis for the NHS.

NHS Digital revealed last month that over 11,500 Nursing and Midwifery vacancies remain unfilled in England.

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Primary Care

RCN supports the launch of the National Bereavement Care Pathway

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The Royal College of Nursing has announced it will be supporting the launch of the National Bereavement Care Pathway.

Led by stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands, the pathway is designed to improve care for parents and families who have lost a baby during pregnancy or up to 12 months after the child is born.

With support from the Department of Health, the new materials, guidance and training will be trialled at 11 sites in England, who will work with the project team to evaluate how well the NBCP can improve bereavement care.

The NHS sites, which include the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, have been chosen to be representative of geography, capacity and specialism.

The pilot will begin in October and is supported by a variety of leading organisations from the Lullaby Trust to NHS England.

Carmel Bagness, RCN Professional Lead for Midwifery and Women’s Health, said: “The loss of a baby is an absolute tragedy and it is up to health care staff to provide the best care possible for bereaved parents and families.

“This pathway could really help to improve the care they receive during this difficult time. We hope this pilot is just the first step towards better care throughout the country for parents and families suffering from this terrible loss.”

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