NHS ‘leaving jobs vacant to try to save cash’ (27 August 2014, The Scotsman)
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 (18 August 2014, BBC News)
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 (1 August 2014, BBC News)
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 (29 July 2014, BBC News)
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 (22 July 2014, BBC News)
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 (15 July 2014, BBC News)
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 (9 July 2014, BBC News)
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 (3 July 2014, BBC News)
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.
‘More needs to be done to recruit and retain GPs’ (26 June 2014, Portsmouth News)
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 per cent of GPs questioned said that they are planning to retire from the profession within the next year due to the workload. And 75 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 (19 June 2014, The Daily Mirror)
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 £20billion 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 (3 June 2014, BBC news)
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.
Obamacare reforms could see thousands of NHS nurses poached to work in the US (The Telegraph, 19th 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 (18 May 2014, BBC News)
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.
Hospitals need thousands of extra nurses 'or patients' safety will be at risk' (The Guardian, 9th 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 (7 May 2014, BBC News)
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 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, 25th 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, 21st 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, 17th 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, Feb 16th 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, 1st 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 NHS's budget by Whitehall is leading to job losses, recruitment freezes and inadequate care for patients, the leader of the country's doctors warns on Tuesday. Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association, said forcing the NHS in England to make £20bn of "efficiency gains" by 2015 at a time of rising demand for healthcare was wrong and damaging. Porter was speaking to the Guardian after the Department of Health (DH) admitted that 7,060 NHS clinical staff, such as doctors and nurses, have been made redundant since the coalition took power in 2010, at the same time as David Cameron was pledging to protect the service's frontline from cuts.
NHS Scotland ‘forcing nurses to work for free’ (The Scotsman: 10 December 2013)
The NHS in Scotland is close to breaking point, with most nurses claiming they are forced to work overtime to meet patient needs, a new report has found. A majority of nurses say patient care is suffering because of the pressure they are under, according to a staff survey by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). Nearly 2,000 nursing posts have been axed in Scotland in recent years. The survey finds that 54 per cent of nurses are working beyond their contracted hours each week in order to meet demands, with 58 per cent saying they are under too much pressure. More than half (55 per cent) say they are not providing the level of care they want to as the pressure builds, according to the survey of 1,681 nurses.
NHS job cuts harming patient care and safety, say staff (The Independent: 10 December 2013)
NHS job cuts have harmed hospital care and patient safety, according to more than half of UNISON union members working in the health service have reported. A survey of nurses, midwives, paramedics, and social care staff carried out by the union, which represents nearly half a million health sector workers, found that nearly two thirds had experienced staffing cuts in their department in recent months. 55 per cent said they believed cuts had “significantly impacted on patient care and safety”. The survey also found that two in five NHS workers represented by the union believe the health service is at risk of privatisation. NHS bodies have made redundancies totalling more than 10,000 in the past three years, and the Royal College of Nursing has reported that then health service is operating with 20,000 fewer nurses than required, because positions vacated by staff retiring or moving on are not being refilled.
Staffing crisis looming for NHS in Scotland (The Scotsman: 03 December 2013)
Hospitals in Scotland are facing a growing staffing problem, with many struggling to fill vacancies for doctors and nurses, health leaders have warned. While workforce numbers in the NHS have increased in the past year, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland yesterday warned the levels were still lower than four years ago and more than 1,700 posts for nurses were still vacant. (...) The latest workforce statistics revealed there were 134,171 whole-time equivalent (WTE) staff in place at the end up September – up 1.8 per cent since the same time last year and 0.6 per cent higher than in June. Nursing and midwifery staff rose 2 per cent in a year to 57,368, while consultants were up 2.4 per cent to 4,584. However the figures, published by Information Services Division Scotland, also revealed large increases in vacancies for both nurses and doctors. The number of vacant posts for nurses and midwives increased from 1,391 in September last year to 1,785 this year, with 396 posts vacant for more than three months. For consultants, vacancies rose from 143 to 213 in the same period, with 60 vacant for more than six months.
'Unacceptable' that only half of NHS staff took routine flu vaccination (The Independent: 02 December 2013)
NHS staff who do not take a routine flu vaccine this winter are putting frail patients' lives at risk, a leading doctor has warned. Despite a national campaign to improve uptake of the annual jab, more than half of frontline NHS workers did not get vaccinated last winter. (...) Uptake of the vaccine so far this winter has been higher than last year, with 35 per cent of all NHS frontline staff vaccinated in September and October - up from 28.4 per cent in the same time period last year. Overall, 45.6 per cent of staff chose to have the vaccine during winter 2012/13. Dean Royles, chief executive of NHS Employers, which has led national efforts to improve coverage, said that 5,000 staff had been vaccinated everyday so far this winter and predicted that record numbers of staff would be vaccinated this year.
Thousands of North East NHS staff attacked at work (The Chronicle Live: 30 November 2013)
Thousands of life-saving NHS staff have been subjected to vicious attacks over the past 12 months, new figures have revealed. It has been revealed that a total of 4,183 assaults were made against employees going about their everyday business at health trusts throughout the region. Yet only 72 criminal sanctions were made during the period of April 2012 and March 2013. The new figures came as NHS Protect released figures for reported physical assaults against NHS staff in England. Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust was shown to have the highest number of staff physical assaults, with a total of 3,372. Health chiefs insisted that initiatives had been put in place to tackle the problem, including working with NHS Protect on a pilot scheme to ensure that all violence is recorded centrally in the Security Incidents Reporting System.
Four hospitals understaffed, says NHS watchdog (The Guardian: 21 November 2013)
New in-depth inspections of four hospitals by the NHS watchdog have uncovered understaffing, problems in A&E, inadequate care of older people and patients facing long waits for treatment. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors, using recently beefed-up powers to assess hospitals' performance, found most cause for concern at Croydon University hospital in south London. Although a new management team has made improvements, the CQC found that some outpatient clinics were poorly organised and significant numbers of older patients being discharged in the evening. "Inspectors were also concerned about low staffing levels affecting patient care, especially in wards for older people," said the CQC. The regulator has told the hospital to improve its A&E department because of "significant staffing problems" there and the unit's poor layout. A major recruitment drive means the vacancy rate among A&E nurses will have fallen from 49% earlier this year to 19% by January, while four more consultant posts have been created to help cope with demand, the hospital said.
Are there enough nurses in the NHS? (The BBC: 19 November 2013)
According to official data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, there are just under 307,000 midwives and nurses working in England (in terms of full-time equivalent posts). Once you strip out the midwives, health visitors and school nurses, which are not employed by the NHS, there are about 275,000 nurses working across the health service in both hospitals and community services. That represents a drop of 6,000 - or 2% - since the election. (...) Work by the Royal College of Nursing suggests the NHS may actually be as many as 20,000 nurses short of what it needs. But it is not just about numbers. Skill mix is important too. For example, some nurses can prescribe, some can't. The support they receive from healthcare assistants varies too. Some do no nursing roles, while others have been trained to change dressings and monitor a patient's vital signs. As in any work environment a mix of experienced and junior staff is needed.
Hunt orders hospitals to publish ward staffing levels every month (The Guardian: 19 November 2013)
Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, will introduce monthly mandatory reporting of numbers of staff on hospital wards but will reject a fixed minimum nurse-patient ratio. Hunt's proposal is in response to the Francis report commissioned in the wake of the Mid Staffordshire scandal, where hundreds of patients died amid appalling failings in care. He will propose that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) be required to draw up a "toolkit" suggesting minimum staffing levels in wards according to the size of ward, acuteness of patient illness, age profile and other factors. NHS trusts will then be required by law to publish the staffing in each ward – and will be subject to an immediate health inspection by the Care Quality Commission if they are not meeting the guidelines. The Safe Staffing Alliance, which includes the Royal College of Nursing, Unison and the Patients Association, backs the idea of a fixed staff ratio of no more than eight patients to one nurse. But Hunt's aides regard support for a fixed ratio as a mistake since they believe it was "Labour's target culture" that led to failures at institutions such as Mid Staffs. The shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, has not backed a fixed ratio.
NHS 111 emergency helpline faces a crisis over Christmas, leaked memo reveals (Daily Mirror: 17 November 2013)
The new NHS phoneline for people needing urgent help faces a crisis over Christmas, a leaked memo has revealed. It shows bosses fear calls to the 111 number will soar by 400 per cent – with staffing levels already dangerously low. (...) Our whistleblower, at the Wakefield-based Yorkshire 111 service, was horrified by the managers’ email. It warns calls could soar from 2,300 to 8,000 on Boxing Day. Just 50 call handlers were on the rota that day though 130 are needed. Only 10 medically trained advisers are due in. And our insider said he feared the situation would be similar across England. He said: “It shows the whole service is understaffed and underfunded. It will be the same across the country.”
NHS crisis: Attacks on staff leap alarmingly as Government cuts bite (Daily Mirror: 14 November 2013)
Damaging cuts in the NHS are being blamed for a shocking rise in abuse suffered by over-stretched healthcare assistants. A survey revealed nine out of 10 HCAs have been the victim of aggression or violence in the past 12 months as they struggle on wards crippled by David Cameron’s flawed economic strategies. There are around 300,000 HCAs in the country, who can earn as little as £14,000 a year – yet they provide 60% of contact with patients. This means they often bear the brunt of verbal and physical abuse from frustrated patients and families. The Tory-led Coalition’s bid to slash £20bn from the health service means thousands of staff have either been sacked or not replaced when they leave a hospital. Conflict resolution training for junior staff has also been drastically cut back. The study by UNISON found the rise in aggression and violence coupled with low morale means two-in-five HCAs have thought about quitting in the past year.
NHS job losses: Hundreds more set for axe in latest wave of Government cuts (Daily Mirror: 13 November 2013)
Hundreds of NHS staff were facing the axe yesterday in the latest round of Government cuts. A new redundancy consultation started for Primary Care Support services (PCS) across England and there are 885 clerical jobs at risk. The move came on the day the Mirror revealed savage Tory cuts were putting patient lives at risk, with the NHS operating with 20,000 fewer nurses than it needs. The Royal College of Nursing found one in 20 posts were not being filled due to the bid to slash £20 billion from the health budget. (...) NHS bodies had made 2,394 redundancies in 2012-13. That followed an estimated 5,600 in 2010-11 and 2,100 in 2011-12 - bringing the total to more than 10,000. A further 3,841 left through “natural attrition”.
More than 1,200 nurse posts vacant in the region - say Royal College of Nursing (The Northern Echo: 12 November 2013)
A NURSING union is warning of an impending workforce crisis in the NHS after a survey showed that hospital trusts in the region had 1,204 vacant nursing posts. The findings for the North-East and Cumbria were part of a national report published today (MON) showing there are nearly 20,000 nursing vacancies currently unfilled in England. The Royal College of Nursing said this "hidden workforce crisis" could have serious consequences for the NHS. Figures show that while official numbers show the NHS in England has lost 3,859 full-time nurses, midwives and health visitors since May 2010, the scale of the problem of understaffing is far larger. New research showed an average six per cent vacancy rate in nursing posts - replicated across the NHS this would amount to nearly 20,000 full time equivalent nursing vacancies.
Heart boy, 7, died because there weren't enough staff at hospital on a bank holiday (Daily Mail: 11 November 2013)
A seven-year-old boy died in a short-staffed hospital ward on Good Friday because nurses were 'unconcerned' about a massive internal bleed following surgery, an inquest heard today. Luke Jenkins, who was born with half a heart, went into hospital to have his third and final corrective operation at Bristol Children’s Hospital on March 30 2012. But a report revealed that a series of errors - including staff being unaware where the resuscitation equipment was when he suffered cardiac arrest - contributed to his death. Luke was expected to make a full recovery, but he lost almost two litres of blood following the operation. He was moved out of intensive care and into a high dependency unit a day after the operation - despite his parent’s claim they were told he should remain there for three days.
Midwife shortage: A THIRD of maternity wards are forced to turn away mums-to-be (Daily Mirror: 8 November 2013)
More than half of birthing units are not meeting staffing guidelines set out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Maternity wards are being shut down because of staff shortages and overcrowding, a damning report has revealed. More than half of birthing units are not meeting staffing guidelines set out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Whitehall’s spending watchdog found. Almost a third, 28% were forced to turn away mums-to-be because of a lack of space or shortage of midwives between April and September last year. And more than one in 10 were closed for a total of a fortnight or more, the National Audit Office discovered. The number of midwives has risen since the election but not by as many as David Cameron promised. There is now a shortfall of about 2,300, the NAO warned. The mounting pressure on maternity units comes as the cost of insurance against compensation claims have hit £482 million – the equivalent of £700 per birth. And there are huge differences in outcomes for new mums and babies while one in 133 youngsters are stillborn or die within their first week of life.
NHS could be facing its 'worst winter yet' (The Telegraph: 5 November 2013)
A doctor has warned that A&E departments could be under pressure this winter because of overcrowding and an urgent need to address staffing shortages. Soaring demand, a shortage of doctors and "toxic" overcrowding on hospital warns could make this the "worst winter yet" for NHS accident and emergency departments, a senior consultant has warned. Bernadette Garrihy, a member of the board of the College of Emergency Medicine, said doctors were concerned about their ability to provide "a safe and quality service" this winter and advised patients to only attend casualty departments "as a last resort." (...) A report by the NHS Confederation has already forecast an increase in the number of cancelled operations and waiting times as the service buckles under the strain this winter. Senior managers taking part in a poll for the report were pessimistic about the NHS' ability to cope this winter after waiting times were the worst in nine years last year.
NHS on the brink of extinction (Tribune Magazine: 21 October 2013)
In past 21 months, £10.7 billion worth of our NHS has been put up for sale, while 35,000 NHS staff have been axed, including 5,600 nurses. Half of our 600 ambulance stations are earmarked for closure. One-third of NHS walk-in centres have been closed and 10 per cent of accident and emergency units have been shut. The A&E departments are performing at a 10-year low. The morale of the NHS family is at rock bottom. Their pay has now been frozen for two years under the coalition, and they have also been forced to accept a major downgrading of their pension benefits. Freezing and squeezing pay is heaping financial misery on more than a million NHS workers. At the same time, the NHS is going through a massive reorganisation, with staff having to deal with job cuts, rationing and ever-increasing patient numbers. What kind of message does all this send to health workers about the value this Government places on their work ? And what incentive is there for young people to join the NHS when those who currently work in it are so undervalued?
NHS staff deserve so much better than they are getting from millionaire ministers and their cavalier cost-cutting (Daily Mirror: 18 October 2013)
When you have to worry about your health, you don’t have to worry about the bills. Our taxes take care of that. But the day of my operation coincided with Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt ratting on a Coalition pledge to give health service employees a 1% pay rise – after two years of wage freeze and a cut of 5,000 nurses. He told their Pay Review Body that an average increase of £200-£300 a year was “unaffordable”. The Tories can afford £3billion for a top-down NHS reorganisation that nobody wants – and a £500million tax bribe for married couples. He also claimed that everybody in the NHS gets a 2-3% “automatic” pay rise every year. Untrue. (...) The last four weeks have taught me just how dedicated and hard working are the men and women (especially the women) who work in our NHS. They deserve better than the cavalier cost-cutting of politicians who are all on private health insurance.
NHS fills nursing shortage by turning to Spain and Portugal (The Independent: 14 October 2013)
A shortage of British-trained nurses is forcing NHS hospital trusts to look for staff overseas as they struggle to keep wards adequately staffed. At least 40 of the 105 hospital trusts in England that responded to a Freedom of Information request by Nursing Times have actively recruited staff from abroad in the past 12 months. A further 41 trusts said they planned to recruit nurses from overseas in the next 12 months. Nearly 1,000 of the 1,360 recent recruits from overseas came from Spain and Portugal. Many trusts have sent nursing managers to recruitment fairs on the Continent. Nottingham University Hospitals Trust currently has around 200 vacancies for nurses. Maria Bentley, who oversees recruitment, said: “We are definitely in the midst of a nursing shortage. It has become more acute over the last year but it’s been going in a general direction over the last couple of years. In the last six months we are just not getting applicants.” She blamed competition for staff from private and community providers, large numbers of nurses approaching retirement and a lack of training places.
Ambulance staff shortages put more pressure on 999 staff, paramedic claims (The Bolton News: 14 October 2013)
Staff shortages are also said to be adding to the growing pressures on paramedics in Bolton. The anonymous staff member claimed the shortage of paramedics at NWAS meant they have less time to carry out the safety checks during shift hand-overs. The North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust — which runs the service in Bolton — admitted there have been about 70 vacancies for paramedics in Greater Manchester. The trust says it has launched a recruitment drive to tackle the problem and bring vacancies down to 30 by December.
'No ifs, No buts, No NHS cuts!': A week on from the union health protests. (Information Daily: 8 October 2013)
Exactly a week ago, members of the TUC, NUS and health service workers took to the streets of Manchester to send a message to the Conservative Party: Save Our NHS. (...) The aim of the protest was to show united opposition against the threat of an estimated 20,000 job losses, the spending cuts across health services in the UK and potential plans for privatisation. According to the government’s own figures, £5 billion will be saved by 2015 as a result of a much needed reduction in managerial and administrative staff in the health sector. However, many joining the protest believe these plans, which have been dubbed the ‘most radical in the history of the health service’, will simply damage the NHS.
It's Official: 21,000 NHS Workers axed in the last 13 weeks recorded. (The Green Benches: 13 September 2013)
The Office of National Statistics has just released data on the size of the public sector workforce as of 30 June 2013. It also compares the employment data to the last quarter which ended on 31 March 2013. The data shows that 21,000 NHS workers were axed in the 13 weeks from 1 April to 30 June. I have taken a screen dump of the data and shown it for you below in case you find it difficult to access or interpret the ONS's tables but you can confirm this yourself from the link above if you wish. I put it to you that these job losses form a larger contribution to the existing crisis in our A& E Departments than Jeremy Hunt is prepared to admit. I think the data also lends weight to the argument that the Tories are probably not the best political party one would wish to place in charge of safeguarding our NHS.
A&E departments understaffed by nearly 10%, BBC survey suggests (BBC News: 08 September 2013)
England's accident and emergency departments are understaffed on average by nearly 10%, a survey has suggested. The 101 out of 166 hospital trusts which responded to a BBC 5 live Freedom of Information request had 1,260 vacant posts. The Department of Health said A& E staffing was an ongoing problem, but action was being taken. A nursing union poll found nine out of 10 nurses working in acute and emergency care believed current pressures on A& E services were putting patients in d