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Why Nurses Should Support the Junior Doctors

Nursing Notes

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It isn’t often that opportunities like this come along.

Solidarity, that word you rarely see apart from dashed in red on the pages of the Morning Star… is a good word. We shouldn’t be afraid of saying it, despite its historical, hammer and sickle connotations. At the moment, junior doctors are expressing solidarity with each other. Professionals will always have the potential to do this, unlike politicians in the present Westminster set-up, rather unfortunately in some cases. Meanwhile, I lose track of who exactly David Cameron and co. upsets from one week to the next. I’m Alright Jack dances unnervingly with Jack Boots. Honest, old-fashioned notions like Human Rights are defenestrated. The whole thing, like any rotting tomato, is decidedly seedy.

What should nurses do about the strike action? I can’t speak for others, but I would do the same as the doctors, in their position. I am sure a lot of nurses feel solidarity. But solidarity is something that a lot of people find uncomfortable. People don’t know where to put it, like an ornament that doesn’t go with the room decor. It’s then easy to forget about it somewhere – “oh, just shove it into one of those closets upstairs, along with the skeletons.” The Hippocratic oath makes striking problematic, although it ultimately it doesn’t destroy the possibility of doing so. Perhaps it’s easier to remind people what they will personally lose from a diminished medical workforce. Nurses, and also doctors, can be conservative with a small “c,”- “no strikes please, we’re British” – that kind of attitude. Moreover, taking the example of the London nursing milieu, so many of us are from abroad – not secure enough to rock the boat – or young and idealistic – constantly moving to new and exciting clinical areas. It makes supporting anything lasting rather hard.

But in this galling electoral cycle we can see the whole concept of the publicly employed health professional under threat. Nursing is often about weighing up different risks; the relative risk that someone will fall versus the risk of compromising their liberty. I would say that the risk that the Tory government pose to our country’s well-being is pretty great. Not only are the National Audit Office worried, but the social care world that surrounds the NHS, maintained by local councils, is also under threat.

But there are ways to fight back. Workplaces can only operate if there are people there working in them. In the world of industry this is no longer the case (through automation). But a day working in the NHS is a lesson in how individuals, rather than machines, can still come together and do amazing, miraculous things.

When Jeremy Hunt recently appeared wearing the garb of a ward hostess, or an HCA’s tunic, “working” on the ward, there is an acknowledgement of this very fact. He’s using a device the public recognise. Universally, and quite deservedly, despised by most health workers, he indirectly validates the “people power” within the NHS with these self-promotional actions. But people power is more than a gimmick – though it’s a naff phrase. You can withdraw your labour, as Hunt is just finding out.

To say all of these problems started when the Conservatives came into power would be a mistake. But rarely has a government been quite so selectively deaf to the concerns of Society. Nurses should support the junior doctors and not let the momentum fade. The solidarity can be built and the means to stop “Open Hunting Season” exist. I said before that it wasn’t often opportunities like this come along. The horizontal nature of  modern day British healthcare is to our advantage. Let’s join the doctors on this horizon; let’s be interdisciplinary about protecting our health service. Yes, it will be rainy and it will be January. Get a badge. Discuss it with your colleagues at work. Write an irate letter to The Sun or Daily Mail. And please come to the picket.

 

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Patients are being mislead by unregistered staff using the “Nurse” title

Ian Snug

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Leading nurses warn that organisations are employing unregistered care staff with job titles describing them as “nurses”.

A study has that found hundreds of roles which do not require Nursing and Midwifery Council registration used the term “Nurse” in the job title.  This, understandably, has caused concern that patients are being misled and staff could be working beyond their competence.

According to the Health Service Journal, Jane Cummings, Englands’ Chief Nursing Officer, has written to NHS leaders calling for them to ensure staff who use the nurse title are in fact registered nurses.

We found several examples, on the NHS jobs website, of positions which utilise the “Nurse” title but do not require an NMC Registration to apply;

  • Assistant Nurse Practitioner.
  • Enhanced Supervision Nurse.
  • Clinical Support Nurse.
  • Associate Nurse.
  • Complex Support Nurse.
  • Assistant Nurse.
  • Auxilliary Nurse.
  • Nurse Support Worker.

Jackie Smith, the NMC’s Chief Executive and Registrar, has previously said;

“If individuals are calling themselves nurses and they are not on our register, then from a patient perspective that is quite worrying. Employers should not mislead patients into thinking the person in front of them is a registered nurse when they are not. They have a duty to make that clear to patients”.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary, said:

“Support workers play an extremely important role but there must always be a clear distinction between them and trained nurses.

“As the shortage of nurses begins to bite, the NHS is increasingly filling shifts with more unregistered care staff. They do not have the qualifications and training of registered nurses and it is unfair on the all sides, not least patients, when they replace more qualified staff.

“The Government must not allow nursing on the cheap. When the number of registered nurses on shift falls, it is patient outcomes and mortality rates that are adversely affected.”

Presently, only the title “Registered Nurse” is protected but staff are calling for the title “Nurse” to also be protected.

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MP insists nurses are already well paid compared to hairdressers, plumbers or carpenters

James M

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An MP has come under fire for saying that nurses are already well paid when compared to hairdressers, plumbers and carpenters in his constituency.

During last weeks debate on scrapping the NHS pay cap, Conservative MP Eddie Hughes said he wanted to ‘bring some context’ to the argument and went on to say that NHS staff already have a good deal when compared to hairdressers, plumbers and carpenters in his Walsall constituency.

But, Hughes has come under fire from NHS staff with nurses reiterating the issue not just about pay. The significant real-terms has also caused many nurses to turn to food banks and caused further issues with staff recruitment and retention as student nurse numbers significantly are affected.

Valerie Vaz, the Labour MP for Walsall South, said his comments ‘echoed the government’s contempt for our NHS workers’ and went on to reiterate that nurses are being forced to use food banks to make ends meet and NHS.

Speaking in Parliament, Eddie Hughes, said;

“I completely welcome the hard work that is done by NHS staff up and down the country, but please let me bring some context to the debate.

“The average income in my constituency is £440 a week, which is approximately £23,000 a year. I intend to advocate on behalf of all my constituents, not just those who work in the public sector. The average salary in my constituency is £23,000, which is about the same as a qualified nurse starts on.

“Many workers in my constituency are employed as hairdressers, plumbers or carpenters, and what pay rise do they get? They have had to work hard every year for their pay, and when we make the comparison using other factors, such as pension schemes, we see that in order to earn the same sort of pension a plumber would need to be putting away 43 per cent of their salary. Yes, we value the public sector in this country, but the Conservatives value all the workers in this country.”

You can view Eddie Hughe’s speech here.

Mike Adams, regional director of the Royal College of Nursing in the West Midlands, said; “They deserve nothing less than fair pay. As it is, we know many nurses work over their hours without pay as a result of staying on after the scheduled end of their shift or working through their breaks to ensure patients are well cared-for”.

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