Nurses at breaking point as number off work with stress soars (17 January 2015: Guardian)
The number of nurses taking time off due to stress has soared as the NHS has struggled to cope with rising demand for care. Responses to freedom of information requests submitted to NHS organisations by the Observer show that both the number of nurses on stress-related leave and the amount of time taken off are up significantly in the past three years in London, Scotland and Wales.
The figures have prompted claims by health unions that the NHS’s 400,000 nurses are being stretched to breaking point as a result of having to work more demanding and longer shifts at a time when understaffing and the increasing complexity of illnesses add to pressures.
In London, almost 1,500 nurses at 31 NHS trusts took time off because of stress during 2014, up 27% on the 1,179 who did so in 2012. That meant that one in every 29 nurses were off ill with stress. The 1,497 nurses took an average of 38 days off for stress.
Some may have had anxiety or depression rather than stress, as the NHS includes those conditions in its definition of stress-related leave. The number of nurses’ working days lost to stress at the 28 acute trusts and three mental health trusts rose from 38,654 in 2012 to 57,156 last year – a rise of 48%.
Hospitals recruit nearly 6,000 nurses from oversees to tackle staff shortages (Health Service Journal: 17 December 2014)
A shortage of registered nurses to fill an increasing number of posts has driven nearly three-quarters of hospital trusts to recruit overseas, an HSJ investigation has revealed.
Analysis of data from all 140 English acute hospital trusts shows that 103 recruited a total of 5,778 nurses from overseas in the 12 months to September 2014.
The numbers illustrate the scale of the shortage of UK based nurses and mean that overseas recruits constituted a substantial proportion of the total hired by hospitals.
HSJ’s figures indicate overseas recruitment increased dramatically compared with the same period in 2012-13. In that year, of 105 trusts that provided information, only 40 reported recruiting a total of 1,360 nurses from outside the UK.
Service hit by staff 'exodus' after CCG transfers contract to Circle (Health Service Journal: 16 December 2014)
One of the biggest teaching trusts in England has been forced to axe its once renowned acute dermatology service following an “exodus” of medical consultants following the transfer of their contract to private provider Circle.
Nottingham University Hospitals Trust has confirmed it will cease to provide acute adult dermatology services – including emergency services – from February next year, due to a lack of staff.
The workforce crisis comes after Nottinghamshire commissioners awarded Circle a contract that made it the main provider of dermatology services delivered across the trust and Circle’s Nottingham NHS Treatment Centre.
The trust’s own bid for the contract was unsuccessful and the services were passed to Circle last year, despite warnings from the trust’s 11 dermatology consultants that senior staff would leave rather than be transferred out of the NHS.
Labour warns of skills gap after exodus of senior nurses from NHS (7 December 2014: The Independent)
The NHS in England has lost more than a thousand matrons and 3,400 other senior nurses over the past four years, new figures have shown, leading to warnings that hospitals may be lacking “vital experience and knowledge” needed to cope with unprecedented levels of demand.
Despite continued calls to put matrons and nursing leaders at the heart of NHS care, figures obtained by the Labour Party reveal the number of senior nursing posts has dropped since 2010.
Official data from August also shows that more than 1,028 “modern matrons” overseeing care in wards and 216 community matrons co-ordinating care across different services have been lost since May 2010.
The combination of an ageing workforce and cuts to staffing are thought to be behind the falling figures. Nurses have also warned that an ongoing pay freeze and ever-increasing job stress were driving them out of the profession, and discouraging experienced professionals from coming back.
The total number of full-time equivalent nursing staff working in the NHS has been on an upward trend in recent months. But the recruitment drive has been expensive, and some hospitals have cut senior posts or not replaced retiring senior nurses to help balance the books.
NHS staff stage four-hour strike (24 November 2014: BBC News)
NHS workers, including nurses, midwives and ambulance staff, have staged a four-hour strike in England as part of a pay dispute.
They were protesting about the decision not to implement a 1% rise for all staff recommended by a pay review body.
Members of nine unions walked out at 07:00 GMT in England and at 08:00 GMT in Northern Ireland.
A Department of Health spokesman said it could not afford the rise without risking frontline jobs.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, told the BBC: "Really it is to get over a message to the public about what is happening and to get the message to the government about the importance of our members providing our health services.
"An independent pay review body that looks at public service workers recommended a 1% increase in line with the government's own pay policy.
Number of GPs seeking to leave UK and work abroad doubles under coalition (23 November 2014: The Guardian)
The number of GPs applying to leave the NHS annually to practise abroad has doubled under the coalition, raising fresh concerns over its handling of the health service.
The exodus risks exacerbating the current backlogs in GP practices and the pressures on A&E departments, according to the Royal College of GPs, which has warned that 600 practices may close in the next year due to poor recruitment and retention of staff. The most recent patient survey reports that one in four patients now wait a week or more to see their local doctor.
New figures show that 529 GPs were issued in 2013 with a certificate of good standing, which allows them to practise abroad. That compares with 266 in 2009, according to figures provided by the General Medical Council.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said that medicine was a mobile profession and that doctors often wanted to spend time travelling and gaining experience overseas before returning to the NHS.
But last night the shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said that the increase in the number of GPs being issued with the certificates was a clear indicator of plummeting morale within the health service, as it struggled to deal with a burgeoning population amid tightening budgets.
NHS spending on agency nurses soars past £5.5bn (1 November 2014: The Guardian)
NHS spending on agency nurses and staff has spiralled to more than £5.5bn over the past four years and is continuing to rise amid a debilitating recruitment crisis in the health service. Budgets for temporary staff this financial year have already been blown apart, it can be revealed, with spending in some parts of the NHS running at twice the planned figure.
Reliance on agencies – at a cost of up to £1,800 per day per nurse – comes as the number of nurse training places in England has been cut. In the last year of the Labour government, 20,829 nurse training positions were filled in England. That fell to 17,741 in 2011-12 and to 17,219 in 2012-13, rising to 18,009 in 2013-14.
According to the latest figures, there were 7,000 fewer qualified nurses in August 2013 compared with May 2010, excluding health visitors, school nurses and midwives. Ministers were accused on Saturday of “truly incompetent planning” by the Royal College of Nurses.
Many of the agency nurses filling the gaps are from abroad, which means their home countries are robbed of medical expertise. Last year 6,228 foreign nurses registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, 22% of the total number of new nurses qualified to work. This compares with 4,305 the previous year.
NHS drafts in extra A&E doctors to 'bolster units' (21 October 2014, BBC News)
The NHS is recruiting about 260 extra doctors in an effort to ease pressure on accident and emergency units in England, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.
Junior and overseas doctors would help bolster A&E units over this winter, the Department of Health said. An aging population was putting pressure on services, it said.
Experts said that the extra doctors would help, but that more experienced doctors were also needed.
Overseas doctors have been recruited on short-term contracts to help plug a gap in the number of experienced doctors in A&E and will start working from November.
There are about 240 A&E units in England, with about 160 of those being large A&E departments.
Unison's NHS workers in Wales vote to strike over pay (20 October 2014, BBC News)
Thousands of NHS staff in Wales have voted to take strike action in a row over pay.
Unison says the Welsh government offer of a payment of £160 to all staff is not enough.
The Welsh government said it is disappointed with the ballot result as pay discussions were ongoing.
Unison said its members in Wales voted by almost 4-1 in favour of strikes and by 9-1 for other forms of industrial action. More than 5,700 took part in the ballot.
Last week, thousands of health workers, including nurses, midwives and ambulance staff, took part in a strike in England and Northern Ireland in a dispute over pay.
Unison regional secretary in Wales Margaret Thomas said: "Our members working in the Welsh NHS have sent a clear message that they are worth more than a miserly £160.
NHS staff shortages pose risk to patients, warns watchdog (17 October 2014, The Guardian)
Some A&E departments and maternity units are so short of doctors and nurses that they pose a danger to patients, the NHS care watchdog has warned.
Despite the Mid Staffordshire scandal, too much care in too many hospitals is still too poor, inspectors say in a report that identifies lapses in safety, patients having to wait on trolleys in corridors and chronic bed shortages as major problems.
Inspectors found examples of children being treated on adult wards, too few staff caring for patients overnight, patients waiting to have their call bells answered, lengthening waits for treatment, and low staffing levels leading to more elderly people falling.
In its annual report assessing NHS and social care services, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said on Friday that while much care is excellent, “the variation in the quality and safety of care in England is too wide and is unacceptable”.
Health service chief visits NHS Grampian after staffing concerns (16 October 2014, BBC News)
The head of NHS Scotland is to meet consultants from NHS Grampian later, after its chairman resigned following reports of a staffing crisis.
Paul Gray will also meet the remaining health board members as part of a two-day visit.
Bill Howatson, who had chaired the board for almost three years, stepped down on Tuesday.
He said there were "significant challenges" best tackled under new leadership.
Last month A&E consultants warned NHS Grampian for a second time that staffing shortages at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary could be putting patient safety at risk.
NHS strike: Unison leader says more workers to vote on strike action (13 October 2014, BBC News)
Patricia McKeown, regional secretary of Unison, said thousands more workers are expected to vote on strike action.
"Our people are facing a stark fifth year of pay freeze and that is having a very adverse impact, particularly on the lowest paid of health workers," she told a lunchtime rally at Stormont.
More than 4,000 NHS staff in Northern Ireland went on strike on Monday.
Members of the unions, Unite and GMB, walked out from 11:00 BST until 14:30 BST.
"We have seen an enormous rise in the number of our members having to turn to the benefit system in order to make ends meet, we have seen an extraordinary rise in the number of members who have been using the Unison internal welfare system to help them out of serious financial difficulties," Ms McKeown said.
"At the same time, they have not stopped delivering 365 days a year, delivering health care and social care to people right across Northern Ireland in the face of all sorts of cutbacks; they are under big stress and big pressure.
"We are here with a very clear message to our politicians today; we need a response very quickly otherwise Unison, which is the biggest union in the health service in Northern Ireland, will ballot for strike action
More paramedics quitting NHS jobs (9 October 2014, BBC News)
Increasing numbers of paramedics are leaving NHS ambulance services, according to figures obtained by the BBC.
Senior staff say remaining paramedic crews are under greater pressure than ever before to meet demand.
At least 1,015 paramedics left their job in 2013-14, compared with 593 in the same period two years earlier.
The Department of Health says it is spending an extra £28m on the ambulance service in England this year. London Ambulance Service saw 223 paramedics leave in 2013-14, four times the number in 2011-12, and the largest increase in the country.
An internal document, produced by London Ambulance Service and seen by BBC Radio 4's The Report programme, suggests morale among paramedics is low. It says three-quarters of paramedics surveyed had considered leaving the service in the past 12 months.
Anonymous paramedics quoted in the report point to rising workloads as one of their greatest grievances.
NHS ambulance workers vote to strike (1 October 2014: City A.M.)
Members of the GMB union of NHS workers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking strike action on 13 October.
Of the ambulance staff who voted, 78 per cent cast their ballot in favour of a walk-out, which will take place between 7:00am and 11:00am. Furthermore, 91 per cent voted for action short of a strike.
The ballot was held in reaction to the government's pay policies. NHS staff have been promised a one per cent rise.
NHS workers plan four-hour strike (BBC News: 24 September 2014)
Health workers in England are to stage a four-hour strike on 13 October, the Unison union has announced.
The strike - which is part of a row over pay - will begin at 7am, and will involve some nurses, healthcare assistants, and porters.
The result of the strike ballot was announced last week, with more than two-thirds of Unison members saying they were prepared to take action.
The Department of Health said the NHS couldn't afford the union's demands.
The government has given NHS staff a 1% pay rise, but not for those who get automatic progression-in-the-job increases.
Those increases are given to about half of staff and are worth 3% a year on average.
NHS staff vote in favour for strike action (BBC News: 18 September 2014)
NHS workers in England have voted in favour of striking over pay.
Two-thirds of Unison members, which include nurses, healthcare assistants and porters, said they were prepared to take action.
Three other unions - the Royal College of Midwives, GMB and Unite - have also balloted their members. The results are expected in the coming weeks.
Ministers have given NHS staff a 1% increase, but not for those who get automatic progression-in-the-job rises.
These are designed to reward professional development and are given to about half of staff and are worth 3% a year on average.
But the decision by ministers went against the recommendation of the independent pay review board, which had called for an across-the-board rise.
NHS ‘leaving jobs vacant to try to save cash’ (The Scotsman: 27 August 2014)
A SHARP rise in front-line staff vacancies in Scotland’s NHS is piling pressure on overstretched health workers and leading to patient care shortages, doctors leaders and the UK’s biggest nursing union have warned.
The number of unfilled consultancy positions surged from 4.7 per cent to 6.9 per cent during the last year, official Scottish health service figures show. That is equivalent to one in 15 senior doctors.
Ministers were warned the NHS would come under growing strain and the British Medical Association (BMA) described the rise in vacancies as “extremely worrying”.
Nursing and midwifery vacancies also increased from 2.9 per cent to 3.1 per cent during the same year-long period.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland warned a failure to fill the posts was leading to “less time to care for patients”. However, the Scottish Government said the vacancies were due to an increase in recruitment to the NHS, with overall staff numbers reaching a “record high”.
Doncaster care workers to stage 21-day strike (BBC News: 18 August 2014)
Care workers in Doncaster have announced plans for a three-week strike as part of their long-running pay dispute with Care UK.
About 70 workers are set to take part in the action due to begin on 25 August, according to Unison.
The union is calling for wages to rise from £7 to the national living wage of £7.65 an hour. Members have staged a series of strikes since February.
Care UK called the latest action "unnecessary and irresponsible".
The company bids for health and social care contracts from the NHS, and in Doncaster provides assisted living for people with learning disabilities in their homes.
Unison to ballot NHS Wales members on pay (BBC News: 1 August 2014)
Thousands of Unison members who work for NHS Wales are to be balloted for industrial action, including strikes.
The vote in October is in response to the £160 one-off payment in lieu of a rise, it said.
Unison is the first union in Wales to take action following last month's pay offer.
The Welsh government said it was trying to be as fair as possible against a backdrop of drastic budget cuts.
Unison represents 35,000 workers in Wales from the lowest paid laundry workers to chief executives.
Dawn Bowden, Unison's head of health, said: "We understand the very difficult financial situation that Welsh government finds itself in as a result of UK funding cuts, however, we do not believe it is right that our members have to pay the price for this.
"While Unison has welcomed the minister's announcement on the introduction of the Living Wage into NHS Wales, we do no not accept that a £160 non-consolidated one-off payment is the best that could be done for the rest of our members."
Doncaster Care UK workers begin 14-day strike (BBC News: 29 July 2014)
Care workers demanding the living wage in Doncaster have begun a 14-day strike.
Care UK cares for 140 people with learning disabilities in about 40 properties in Doncaster.
Unison members said the company should increase workers' wages from £7 to the national living wage of £7.65 an hour.
Chris Hindle of Care UK said the pay demands were "simply unrealistic" and "at odds with what is happening in the NHS."
The national company bids for health and social care contracts from the NHS.
In Doncaster, it provides assisted living for people with learning disabilities in their homes.
When the strike ends members will have taken 48 days of industrial action since disputes began last September.
Jim Bell of Unison said about 120 of 150 Care UK Unison members had gone on strike in Doncaster. Four years of pay freezes had made it "impossible to meet the basic costs of living," Mr Bell said.
NHS staff balloted on strike action over pay (BBC News: 22 July 2014)
Midwives, nurses and ambulance workers are among more than 400,000 NHS workers in England being balloted on industrial action, including strikes, over pay.
Unison, the Royal College of Midwives, GMB and Unite made the announcements in a coordinated response to the pay deal put forward by the government in March.
It is the first time in their history that midwives have been balloted.
Ministers have given NHS staff 1%, but it does not apply to those who get automatic progression-in-the-job rises.
These are designed to reward professional development and are given about half of staff and are worth 3% a year on average.
But the decision by ministers went against the recommendation of the independent pay review board, which had called for an across-the-board rise.
In Scotland, the recommendation was agreed to in full. Northern Ireland is yet to make a decision, while Wales is doing the same as England but has given extra money to the lowest paid.
Hospitals get guidelines on safe nurse numbers (BBC News: 15 July 2014)
Hospitals in England are being given strict guidelines on safe staffing levels for nurses - but they stop short of giving absolute minimums.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said having more than eight patients to one nurse on a ward in the day should act as a trigger for checking if care was being compromised.
It also set out a series of "red flag" events that should prompt concern.
The government said the move was a "major step forward".
The guidelines cover problems with basic care such as delays getting pain relief.
Other events include patients not being helped on a visit to the bathroom or not receiving their medication.
Both patients and nurses on wards can raise these. They must then be investigated and explanations provided for what has gone wrong.
BMA 'deeply disappointed' over consultant pay offer (BBC News: 9 July 2014)
The British Medical Association has said it is "deeply disappointed" Welsh ministers are not offering hospital consultants a general 1% pay rise.
A review body suggested NHS staff across the UK should get a 1% increase.
But Welsh ministers announced the rise would only go to consultants at the top of their pay grades, who do not automatically receive an increase for progressing in their jobs.
The health minister said the offer was fair during a financial squeeze.
Mark Drakeford said the salaries of the lowest paid NHS staff would be increased to the level of the living wage, at least £7.65 an hour from September.
The rate, above the £6.31 minimum wage rate, is estimated by the Living Wage Foundation to be the money needed to cover basic living costs.
Mr Drakeford's decision on consultants' pay mirrors a similar decision, made in April, by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on NHS pay in England.
Bristol GPs quit practice because of workload (BBC News: 3 July 2014)
A surgery in Bristol may have to close after two doctors resigned saying they could not cope with the workload.
The pair said they could not find new partners to help run St Martin's surgery in Knowle and have told the NHS they will leave in three months.
One of those, Dr Holly Hardy, said they made a "difficult decision" to ensure "patient safety in the long term".
NHS England has until September to find replacements but said the surgery would not necessarily close.
"We will be seeking a provider for an interim GP service whilst options for the long term future of the surgery are considered," the NHS said in a statement.
Doctors resign citing bullying at Hull hospitals (BBC News: 2 July 2014)
Two senior doctors have resigned from their posts at hospitals in Hull claiming there is a culture of bullying within the trust.
Dr Farqad Alamgir has left Castle Hill Hospital, claiming care is suffering because of a drive to meet NHS targets.
Consultant gynaecologist Wendy Noble resigned from her post at Hull's Women and Children's Hospital.
A Care Quality Commission report raised staff concerns and asked the trust to investigate.
Dr Ian Philp, from the Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said that the board "recognised the problem".
‘More needs to be done to recruit and retain GPs’ (Portsmouth News: 26 June 2014)
Heavy workload is forcing many of our GPs to retire early or leave the profession, the local medical committee has said.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, delivered a warning to the government yesterday that GP services are at breaking point.
In a local survey, 35% of GPs questioned said that they are planning to retire from the profession within the next year due to the workload. And 75% say there has been a GP vacancy in their practice in the past year.
It comes a week after The News revealed many surgeries in Portsmouth and south-east Hampshire are under pressure, with one practice in Portsmouth having 3,382 patients per GP.
Dr Nigel Watson is the chief executive of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight local medical committee.
He said: ‘There is a problem with recruitment and retention. In our area, 20% of GPs are saying they will leave the profession or retire in the next two years.
‘There aren’t enough GPs being trained to replace them because we can’t get good GPs. When the trainees finish, less than 50% of them are going to join a practice. Many of them are going abroad.'
Too few nurses to cope: Patients suffer as staff numbers fall due to £20 billion coalition cuts (The Daily Mirror: 19 June 2014)
Patients are having to wait longer to see a nurse in hospital as the UK lags behind the rest of the world on staffing levels.
Those in pain, or are too frail to use the toilet or get a glass of water themselves are being left to cope on their own because of the onset of £20 billion Coalition cuts to the NHS.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "It is a shocking indictment of a workforce planning strategy which puts finances ahead of patients."
The shocking situation is actually getting worse, data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development revealed.
We now have a ratio of just 8.41 nurses to 1,000 people – a slump from 9.97 in 2009.
Switzerland has 16.6 nurses per 1,000 people, Germany has 11.37 and Luxembourg has 11.27 – all up from 2009.
The UK ranks only just above Slovenia, in eastern Europe, which has 8.33 per 1,000 people.
Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Trust pays 'nurse recruitment fee' to staff (BBC News: 3 June 2014)
Hospital staff who introduce qualified nurses to their employer are to receive rewards of up to £350.
Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Trust said it had already recruited abroad but hoped the incentive scheme would encourage local nurses to apply. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) criticised the recruitment initiative, calling it a "gimmick".
Howard Catton, head of policy, said more focus was needed on investment and staff development.
He said: "If we look at what will attract staff and nurses to our hospitals, it is good employment conditions, flexible working, and investment in career development."
He added that nurses also wanted to work for an organisation that would listen to them.
NHS chiefs' pay rises condemned as 'double standards' by nurses (The Guardian: 15 June 2014)
Hospital bosses' pay has been rising far faster than that of frontline NHS staff during the service's unprecedented financial squeeze, prompting angry claims by nurses' leaders of double standards.
Senior NHS managers' salaries have risen by an average of 6.1% over the last two years – almost four times the average rate of 1.6% for nurses, midwives and health visitors, according to new figures.
Some hospital trust chief executives and other senior figures have received bonuses of at least £40,000 – more than a ward sister's annual salary – pay rises of up to £30,000 and benefits in kind, such as a leased car, worth £10,000, freedom of information requests show.
The disclosures have led the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which conducted the research, to condemn what it says are unfair and growing disparities on pay in England at a time when most NHS staff who look after patients have had pay freezes or tiny pay rises.
NHS trusts feel financial strain as nurse recruitment drive leaves more than ever before in the red (The Independent, 23rd May 2014)
More NHS foundation trusts have ended the financial year in the red than at any time in NHS history, hospital regulators have said, as a huge nurse recruitment drive to improve care in the wake of the Mid Staffordshire scandal takes its toll on hospital finances.
More than 24,000 additional NHS staff were recruited in the past year, Monitor said, a four per cent increase on last year and three times higher than planned recruitment levels. Most of the new recruits were nurses, healthcare assistants and other frontline staff. Monitor said that the recruitment drive showed hospitals were responding to care failures identified first by Robert Francis’ report into the Mid Staffordshire scandal, and then NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh’s report on trusts with higher than average mortality rates.
However, the additional staffing costs have added to the sector’s financial burden. 40 foundation trusts ended the year in the red, with a combined deficit of £307 million. Although overall the foundation trust sector ended the year in surplus, experts have warned that the NHS’s financial troubles will continue to worsen without a major injection of cash.
Obamacare reforms could see thousands of NHS nurses poached to work in the US (The Telegraph: 19 May 2014)
President Obama’s health reforms could result in thousands of nurses leaving the NHS to work across the Atlantic, a senior health official has warned. The USA is looking to fill a shortfall of some 100,000 nurses and could “come shopping” in the UK, said Professor Ian Cumming, who leads the NHS body responsible for the training and education of health professionals.
While only 569 UK-trained nurses registered an interest in working in the USA last year, Professor Cumming said there was a risk that the advent of Obamacare earlier this year would lead to US health firms “coming shopping” in the UK.
“If you’re offered a three-year fixed term contract on a similar salary with the opportunity to do an MA and accommodation provided – and you get to live in New York, San Francisco or Hawaii, or anywhere else you like – if you’re in your 20s and a newly qualified nurse then you might be interested,” he said. Losing too many nurses could represent “an extraordinary waste of money”, he added, given that it costs between £30,000 and £40,000 to train a nurse in the UK. He said it was crucial the NHS valued and supported existing nursing staff.
Wales NHS nurse shortage 'compromises care', RCN claims (BBC News: 18 May 2014)
Hospitals in Wales face a shortage of qualified nurses which could compromise patient care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has claimed.
The RCN claimed reports of poor nursing standards could damage recruitment.
Chief Nursing Officer Jean White told the BBC's Sunday Politics Wales that enough nurses are being trained.
The RCN in Wales has accused the Welsh government of failing ensure there are enough training places and claim that has led to an insufficient supply of qualified staff.
Director Tina Donnelly said nurses on the frontline of NHS services were feeling the pressure of tight budgets and inadequate staffing levels.
She said there was no excuse for examples of poor care such as those highlighted in the Trusted To Care review of failings at the Princess of Wales, Bridgend, and Neath Port Talbot hospitals.
Nine-hundred NHS jobs could be outsourced overseas (Unison: 14 May 2014)
UNISON has called for a halt to plans by NHS England to either axe 900 jobs in an internal reorganisation or to privatise services with some work being transferred to India.
The cuts affect mainly low paid workers carrying out a wide range of vital administrative work, including dealing with prescription charges, payments to GPs, opticians and dentists as well as referrals for cancer screening.
NHS England is faced with choices involving an internal restructure where there will be job losses and office closures, or to hand a £60M contract to Shared Services Connected Ltd (a private company owned 75% by Steria Ltd), without having gone through any kind of tendering or procurement process. If the contract is transferred to SSCL Ltd, there will be at least similar numbers of redundancies – the cost of which will apparently be met by the NHS.
Hospitals need thousands of extra nurses 'or patients' safety will be at risk' (The Guardian: 9 May 2014)
Nurses in hospitals should not have to look after more than eight patients each at any one time, the body that sets NHS standards will urge next week in a move that will add to pressure to end what critics claim is dangerous understaffing. Responding to concerns about standards of patient care in the aftermath of the Mid Staffs scandal, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) will warn that registered nurses' workloads should not exceed that number because patients' safety could be put at risk.
Many hospitals shed staff from 2010 in an attempt to make the NHS savings target of £20bn by 2015. Although many have begun hiring more nurses since the Francis report, shortages are common and recruitment from overseas countries such as Spain, Portugal and Ireland is increasing. At one trust alone it was concluded that it was 100 nurses short of the number required to guarantee safe care for patients and that they would cost £3.5m to recruit. Many trusts are struggling to recruit nurses locally and are increasingly bringing in staff from overseas.
Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital staff shortage affecting patient care (BBC News: 7 May 2014)
A shortage of doctors and nurses is affecting the care of patients at two East Yorkshire hospitals, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said. A report by the CQC also found Hull Royal Infirmary (HRI) and Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham lacked the capacity to meet rising admissions. It said both hospitals faced "significant challenges" as a result.But Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust was praised for its end of life, critical and maternity care.
Both hospitals were rated as "requiring improvement" following the inspection in February.
Prof Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals for the CQC, said despite staff efforts to meet patients' needs, shortages "have been felt across a range of services".
"It is of particular concern that the shortage of junior doctors was impacting on the care patients received, leading to delays in assessment and treatment," he said.
NHS understaffing may have effect on baby mortality rate, says top doctor (The Guardian: 27 April 2014)
Britain's leading obstetrician says it is legitimate to ask whether understaffing of maternity care and labour wards is contributing to Britain's stubbornly high rates of baby death and brain damage.
Dr David Richmond, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, has voiced alarm that nearly 300 babies a year are dying during or soon after birth with a further 1,200 ending up with brain damage or other serious health problems.
The infant deaths, Richmond said, were due to a range of issues. But with maternity units struggling to cope with a baby boom over the past 10 years and a shortage of midwives and doctors, Richmond said it was "a legitimate question to ask" whether pressure on resources was contributing to the tragic toll.
Four out of five hospitals short on midwives, NHS figures reveal (The Guardian: 24 April 2014)
Four out of five hospitals have too few midwives, despite the ongoing baby boom, official NHS figures reveal.
Midwife shortages are so acute in some parts of England that hospitals have almost one in five posts in their maternity units unfilled, according to responses to freedom of information requests.
[...] Some hospitals "bury their heads in the sand" by not reviewing their maternity staffing needs for as long as ten years as they know they cannot afford to hire extra midwives, Warwick claimed.
NHS Faces Strike Threat as 460,000 Healthcare Staff to be Balloted (International Business Times: 15 April 2014)
Hundreds and thousands of healthcare workers in the UK, including nurses and paramedics, are to be balloted for a strike over pay.
According to the trade union Unison, the 460,000 employees are angry at the government's decision to increase pay by 1% – below Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation of 1.6%.
The union claims that the government's remuneration move has left 60% of NHS workers without a pay increase this year, including 70% of nurses
"Demand for NHS services is increasing and funding has been cut - regardless of what the Westminster Government says – you know the reality of this and they want you and our members to make up the shortfall by cutting pay and conditions," said Christina McAnea, Unison's head of health.
Hospital patients face higher risk of death at night because NHS cuts have left wards short staffed. (The Mirror: 14 April 2014)
A report has found nurses are too stretched to provide proper care. Unison said: "We need urgent action."David Cameron has been repeatedly warned his savage NHS cuts will lead to dangerous levels of patient safety in overstretched hospitals.
The PM was accused of ignoring medical experts after a damning report revealed the chances of dying on wards at night was greatly increased due to a chronic shortage of nurses.
Union chiefs fear the crisis could lead to another Mid Staffordshire-style disaster where patient deaths soared due to a lack of staff and sloppy care.
A survey by Unison found 59% of nurses on night shifts are unable to deliver proper care because of cuts.
The Tory-led Coalition has slashed 5,000 posts since 2010.
NHS nurses stretched to breaking point, says report (The Guardian: 14 April 2014)
Half of nurses are working through breaks or beyond their shift, revealing a health service under severe strain, a report has warned.
A survey of almost 3,000 nurses by Unison showed that two-thirds believed they did not spend enough time with patients, which most said affected care.
Three out of five of those questioned felt that staff numbers led to lower standards of care, while almost half said they were looking after eight or more patients.
The report, Running on Empty, said half of nurses were not confident about raising any concerns they had with their local managers
Gail Adams, Unison's head of nursing, said: "One of the most damaging findings of this survey is how little has changed since last year.
Strikers picket Care UK's Doncaster office (Socialist Worker: 25 March 2014)
A firm at the forefront of NHS privatisation faces a rebellion from its own staff. Workers who care for adults with learning disabilities in Doncaster ended their second seven-day strike in a month on Tuesday of this week. The Unison union members are battling a huge attack on their terms and conditions after Care UK took over their service last September. Unison steward Lorraine Cotterell told Socialist Worker that Care UK promised changes would be “minimal”—but “these proposals couldn’t be more maximum if they tried”. "They want to get rid of enhancements for weekend pay, unsociable hours, sleepovers and bank holidays,” she said.
“They’re sabotaging everybody’s lives. It’s absolutely criminal that a private company can come in and do this. If Care UK gets away with it God help the rest of the NHS.”
Strikers collectively burnt the new contracts on the picket line. Accepting them would cost striker Roger Hutt £500 a month. Socialists have been inviting strikers to speak at union meetings and organising collections for the strike fund.
But hard-nosed bosses haven’t budged—except to extend by one week the deadline for signing the new contracts. “Some are talking about all-out strike now,” Stephanie said. “That’s a good idea. But there are people worrying about paying their bills.”
“Our job is standing up for vulnerable adults’ said Lorraine. “Now we’re standing up for ourselves.”
Survey shows the majority of public health staff want to quit sector (Hospital Doctor: 21 March 2014)
Public health consultants and trainees say the recent health reforms have failed to benefit the public’s health and more than half of specialists have considered leaving the profession, research reveals.The BMA survey highlights a potential workforce crisis. More than half of public health consultants and just under half of those in training, have recently considered leaving public health due to issues around career fulfilment, work-life balance and fears about future changes to terms and conditions.
There is also significant concern that the current workforce is being spread too thinly, with only 12% of survey respondents believing that, in ten years time, there will be enough public health consultants available to serve the increasingly complex needs of the population.
Worryingly, the survey also shows there is still little support for the public health reforms in England. The majority of those surveyed do not think the reforms have benefited the public’s health and believe the level of unnecessary bureaucracy has increased. The report highlights the risks associated with fragmentation of the workforce and of some healthcare services.
Thousands of redundant NHS staff rehired (BBC News: 17 March 2014)
New figures indicate that almost 4,000 staff made redundant from the NHS in England, before last year's major restructuring, have since been re-employed. The government blamed "unacceptably lax" contracts that allow staff to re-join the NHS a month after redundancy. It says it's working on tough new plans to cap payouts, and has reduced administrative posts overall.
The number of national health service staff estimated to have been made redundant and later re-employed almost doubled in the last year - from 2,200 managers - Ministerial responses to Parliamentary Questions have revealed. The total now stands at 3,950. Overall, more than 10,000 full-time workers were made redundant from the NHS in England since the restructuring of the service.
Changes introduced in April 2013 have seen 150 primary care trusts, run by managers, replaced with 211 clinical commissioning groups, led by family doctors.
Fears jobs could go overseas as NHS trust plans to outsource roles (Manchester Evening News: 27 February 2014)
UNISON, the NHS’ largest union, says plans by Pennine Acute Trust to ‘privatise’ back room jobs could also lead to patient health records being sent to India for processing.
Trust bosses, who have so far avoided redundancies through the delivery of millions of pounds worth of savings, insist they will do everything they can to redeploy staff.
Initial plans, going before the trust’s board today (Thursday), involve the out-sourcing of around 35 payroll, pensions and human resources functions to NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) - a partnership between the Department of Health and French multinational, Steria.
Nursing Staff Cuts Linked To Higher Death Rates (Sky News: 26 February 2014)
Hospitals are experiencing higher patient death rates as a direct result of nursing cutbacks, according to a study of hospitals in England and eight other countries.
Data from 300 European hospitals shows that every extra patient added to a nurse's workload increases the risk of death within a month of surgery by 7%. The level of training the nurse had undergone also had an impact, the study said, with university degrees going a long way towards making up for reduced staffing levels. [...] Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: "It is worrying to see that researchers found the mean ratio of patients to nurses in England is above eight, as we know that this can compromise patient safety. "The RCN has also expressed concern at the skills mix in UK hospitals as trusts get rid of more senior nurses to save money, meaning there is far less experience on many wards, and the full extent of this will be revealed in our upcoming Frontline First report."
Poll reveals 'unhappy' nurses tempted to seek overseas employment (Daily Mirror: 16 February 2014)
More than half of NHS nurses want to quit their jobs, a shocking new survey has revealed. The poll, which highlights plummeting morale in the health service, saw many admit they were tempted to leave the UK to work overseas instead. Brits in the job are highly sought after in countries such as Australia and Dubai where they can often earn upwards of £10,000 a year more than they do here. Just one in seven said they were happy in their role and more than half admitted they would leave if they could.
Nicola Bullen, of TMP Worldwide, behind the poll of 1,600 nurses, said organisations needed to boost their reputations to recruit top talent. Senior nurses urged employers to offer quality training and career development to help bring in and retain the best staff.
NHS care watchdog warns of 'alarming' culture amongst staff (The Independent: 1 February 2014)
The NHS will “go bust” without radical change to drive up standards and rid hospitals of a “toxic” bullying culture that damages patient care, the head of its official regulator has warned.
David Prior, the chairman of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), says the safety of the most vulnerable patients is being jeopardised by a “dysfunctional” rift between NHS managers and clinical staff.
In an article for The Telegraph, he warns of an “alarming” culture within the NHS. He discloses that one in four staff have reported bullying, harassment or abuse from colleagues and managers, while whistleblowers are ostracised. The NHS often “delights” in the “ritual humiliation” of those who are deemed to have failed, he adds. Without “transformational change”, he says, including greater private-sector involvement, hospital mergers and an end to pointless targets, the health service risks going “bust”.
A series of scandals has shaken public trust in the health service, not least at Stafford Hospital where there were hundreds of “excess” deaths as patients suffered appalling maltreatment and neglect. Last year, a public inquiry into the Stafford scandal heard how a nurse who tried to tell hospital managers that waiting times were being manipulated was threatened and left afraid to travel alone.
Police are also investigating claims that staff at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust were “pressured or bullied” into falsifying waiting list data and hiding long waits for cancer patients. In his article, Mr Prior highlights the treatment of whistleblowers, saying the NHS is failing to listen to those who challenge poor care and champion the rights of patients. He says those who try to speak out are too often “ostracised” by their colleagues and managers. On bullying, he reveals the results of a survey of 100,000 NHS staff which found one in four had complained about their treatment.
Shortage of midwives putting patients at risk (The Guardian: 31 January 2014)
The safety of pregnant women and their babies during childbirth may be being put at risk by a lack of NHS funding and a national shortage of 2,300 midwives, a committee of MPs has said. In a highly critical report on the state of maternity care, the Commons public accounts committee criticised the Department of Health and NHS England for being unable to explain who is accountable for ensuring that the NHS has enough nursing staff trained to deal with childbirth. Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee, said: "There is evidence that many maternity services are running at a loss, or at best breaking even, and that the available funding may be insufficient for trusts to employ enough midwives and consultants to provide high quality, safe care.
NHS spending on temporary locum doctors in A&E up 60%, says Labour (The Guardian: 14 January 2014)
Labour has blamed the coalition's NHS reforms for a surge in the use of temporary locum doctors in A&E wards at the cost of £83m a year. Labour figures show spending on locum doctors has shot up by 60% since 2009, with some paid up to £1,500 for a shift. The College of Emergency Medicine said it was not a sensible way of spending money.
Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said the government did not listen to warnings about a looming shortage of emergency medicine doctors because it was "obsessed" with shaking up the health service structure.
"My diagnosis is that the full consequences of the government's reorganisation of the NHS are now being felt," Burnham told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "Three years ago, the government was explicitly warned about this problem by the College of Emergency Medicine, but they have described feeling like John the Baptist in the wilderness. The government simply was not listening because it was completely focused – obsessed, in fact – on its reorganisation."
Staff bullying concerns raised about largest NHS trust (BBC News: 14 January 2014)
Staff members at all levels and across all sites of England's largest hospital trust have expressed concerns about being bullied, a report has shown. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found "staff morale was low" at hospitals run in central and east London by the Barts Health NHS Trust.
A Barts Health NHS Trust spokeswoman said the report was "tough but fair". The trust has a workforce of 14,000 and serves an area with a population of about 2.5 million people. The CQC inspected the quality of care provided by Barts Health NHS Trust across three acute hospitals, three specialist hospitals and two birthing centres in central and east London.
In November, it inspected the Royal London Hospital, Whipps Cross University Hospital, Newham University Hospital, the London Chest Hospital, St Bartholomew's Hospital, Mile End Hospital, the Barkantine Birthing Centre and the Barking Birthing Centre. The CQC's Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: "We found that Barts Health NHS Trust was, in the main, providing services that were safe. "On a more negative note, we found that staff morale was low," he added.
Elsewhere, the report said that three warning notices issued to Whipps Cross Hospital, in east London, in June 2013, had been lifted following the inspection. But it said staffing levels were "variable" across the trust's services and that equipment was "not always readily available" which "placed patients at risk of harm".
The Royal College of Nursing responded to the report saying: "The report repeats serious warnings about the staffing levels at Barts Health and says explicitly that problems with bullying, stress and low morale have to be addressed if the trust are to achieve their vision. "It is hard to see how this is reconciled with the trust's decision to cut 200 nursing posts before Christmas and cut pay for several hundred more."
Five hundred NHS Direct jobs at risk (The Guardian: 6 January 2014)
Hundreds of staff at a failed provider to NHS 111 have been warned that they face losing their jobs in the coming months.The 111 line has been riddled with teething problems since its inception on 1 April last year and was thrown into turmoil in July when NHS Direct announced it was planning to pull out of its contracts because of severe financial problems. It announced in October it is to close at the end of the financial year. A spokesperson for NHS Direct said on Monday that it had written to about 500 employees, including around 140 nurses, giving them formal notice that they are at risk of redundancy at the end of March.
7,000 key clinical staff made redundant since 2010 election (The Guardian: 31 December 2013)
An "arbitrary" straitjacket on the Key Facts Since the Coalition came to power in 2010 the NHS has lost as many as 6000 nursing posts. Key Trends: Between May 2010 and July 2012: the total NHS workforce decreased by 2%. Within this change: The number of doctors rose by 7.5%, qualified midwives by 5%, and qualified scientific, therapeutic and technical staff by 2%. The number of qualified nurses decreased by 2%. Largest decrease in NHS infrastructure support at 9% A decrease in support to doctors and nursing staff by 2.5%.
Since the Coalition came to power in 2010 the NHS has lost as many as 6000 nursing posts.
Between May 2010 and July 2012: the total NHS workforce decreased by 2%.
Within this change:
The number of doctors rose by 7.5%, qualified midwives by 5%, and qualified scientific, therapeutic and technical staff by 2%.
The number of qualified nurses decreased by 2%.
Largest decrease in NHS infrastructure support at 9%
A decrease in support to doctors and nursing staff by 2.5%.