Health trusts reveal thousands of doctor and nursing positions lie vacant (The Independent: 29 February 2016)

One in ten nursing positions and thousands of doctor posts are lying vacant, trusts and health boards have said.

Around two-thirds of UK trusts and health boards, struggling to cope with a shortage of qualified staff, are seeking applicants from abroad to fill the vacancies, a freedom of information request by the BBC showed. Some were travelling as far as India and the Philippines. 

The vacancy rate for doctors is seven per cent and for nurses 10 per cent compared with the Office of National Statistics' average for the economy at large from between November 2015 and January 2016 of 2.7 per cent.

The data shows that on December 1 2015, the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland had more than 23,443 vacant nursing posts and 6,207 doctor vacancies - and 106 out of 166 trusts in the regions also responded with information on the increase in vacancies over the last three years...read more

 

Junior doctors defy health secretary with three 48-hour strikes (The Guardian: 23 February 2016)

Junior doctors have defied the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, declaring three 48-hour strikes and an intention to seek a judicial review of the government’s plan to impose new contracts on them.

The industrial action, announced by the British Medical Association on Tuesday, represents an escalation of the already bitter and long-running dispute over pay, working hours and patient safety

Dr Johann Malawana, who chairs the BMA’s junior doctor committee, said: “ If the government wants more seven-day services then, quite simply, it needs more doctors, nurses and support staff, and the extra investment necessary to deliver them.

“Rather than address these issues head on, the government wants to introduce a contract that is unfair and in which junior doctors have no confidence.”

The dates planned for the industrial action, which will not affect emergency care, are 9 March, 6 April and 26 April. All are scheduled to begin at 8am. They follow two 24-hour strikes held this year, which caused thousands of operations to be cancelled...read more

 

NHS staff survey: more staff working extra hours (HSJ: 23 February 2016)

The percentage of NHS staff reporting that they are working extra hours has reached a five year high according to the NHS staff survey results published on Tuesday.

The results of the 2015 poll, carried out from September to December, show working extra hours has reached a peak. Almost three quarters of NHS staff, 73 per cent, said they work extra hours, up from its lowest level of 64 per cent in 2011.

Sixty-eight per cent said they did not work any paid overtime above their contracted weekly hours, but only 40 per cent of staff said they did not work any unpaid overtime each week.

Almost half of NHS staff disagreed or strongly disagreed that there were enough staff at their organisation for them to do their job properly, while 31 per cent said they were unable to meet conflicting demands on their time...read more

 

The number of doctors applying to work abroad surged by 1,000 per cent on the day Jeremy Hunt imposed new contract (The Independent: 17 February 2016)

The number of doctors who applied for documentation to work abroad surged by over 1000 per cent the day Jeremy Hunt announced he would force a new contract on them, new figures show.

300 doctors applied for Certificates of Good Standing on Thursday 11 February – up from an average of 26 a day in February before the announcement.  Each junior doctor costs taxpayers around £300,000 to train – meaning that on just the day of Mr Hunt’s announcement alone doctors who had received £90 million worth of training took concrete steps towards emigrating...read more

 

Seven-day NHS may not cut death rates, say Hunt's own officials (The Guardian: 16 February 2016)

Jeremy Hunt’s key argument in his demands for a seven-day service in NHS hospitals has been called into question by his own department, in a leaked report which says it is not able to prove that fuller staffing would lower the numbers of weekend-admitted patients dying.

The report also admits it will be “challenging” to meet the government’s promise to recruit 5,000 more GPs by 2020, a Conservative pledge during the election campaign, and that 11,000 new staff will be needed to run a seven-day service in hospitals.

The increased numbers of deaths among patients admitted at weekends has been the cornerstone for Hunt’s argument in favour of a seven-day health service, with the health secretary citing 15 international studies since 2010, including one co-authored by the NHS’s top doctor Prof Sir Bruce Keogh, which indicate an increase of deaths in hospitals at the weekend.

However, an internal Department of Health draft report, leaked to the Guardian, says the department “cannot evidence the mechanism by which increased consultant presence and diagnostic tests at weekends will translate into lower mortality and reduced length of stay”...read more

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