News round-up: Catch-up on March’s top nursing stories

Nurses safety critical but ‘no simple algorithm’ for ward staffing

hospital multidisciplinary staff

hospital multidisciplinary staff

Registered nurses are critical to patient safety but the exact number needed on any one ward is still open to debate, researchers have found.

They said determining the size and shape of the inpatient ward team “cannot be reduced to a simple algorithm” and requires consideration of the best available evidence to weigh up the risks.

However, they found “strong evidence” showing a link between registered nurse numbers and patient harms and deaths. Nurse staffing was also considered key to patient satisfaction.

The observations were made in a new report by the National Institute for Health Research, which carried out a review of recent studies on hospital ward healthcare staffing.

“The evidence demonstrates that making decisions about ward staffing is complex,” it said. “Determining the right number of staff and mix of education and skills is not a precise science and requires a risk assessment based on the best available evidence.”

“Determining the right number of staff and mix of education and skills is not a precise science”

NIHR report

It found a larger body of work showing a relationship between registered nurse numbers and safety, effectiveness and patient experience. But it highlighted a gap in the literature in how nurses depended upon other professions and said the role of support workers “needs further exploration”.

The review found that there may be a “U-shaped relationship” between support worker staffing and patient harms, with rates rising when there were both too few and too many on shift. It called for “close attention” to be paid on the introduction of the new nursing associate role.

Ward managers were also found to be “pivotal” in creating a good working environment for staff, which in turn helped retention and recruitment.

Stevens gives ‘guarantee’ to restore ‘slashed’ nurse CPD funding

NHS England

Simon Stevens

Simon Stevens

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has given a “personal guarantee” to restore funding for nurse continuing professional development that was previously “slashed”. Giving a speech at the chief nursing officer for England’s summit in March, Mr Stevens highlighted the need to retain nurses and encourage more people into the profession.

Ruth May pledges to tackle ‘unacceptable’ race inequalities

Chief nursing officer

Ruth May

Ruth May

The chief nursing officer for England has used her first major speech to highlight the “value” of nurses. Dr Ruth May told delegates at the CNO summit in Birmingham that “nurses are trusted but too often under-valued”, adding: “I want our profession to be one that is fully valued.”

Health secretary says he wants more nurses leading NHS trusts

Department of Health and Social Care

Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock

The health and social care secretary has said the public perception of nurses needs to change in order to acknowledge how “highly skilled, highly technical and knowledge-based” the nursing profession is. At the CNO summit Matt Hancock called for action to update the image of nursing.

Poor maths and English barring ‘thousands’ from nursing career

Health Education England

Ian Cumming

Ian Cumming

Thousands of people have been rejected from nursing associate courses because they did not have the basic maths or English skills required, according to Health Education England chief executive Professor Ian Cumming. He told the CNO summit that the problem was a major “stumbling block”.

A&E nurse calls on public to give staff a ‘break’ in online post

emma francis 1

emma francis 1

Emma Francis

A nurse has spoken out about the harsh realities of life working in the accident and emergency department, following a series of patient backlash. Emma Francis, a sister at North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust, said she recently wrote a blog post to give nurses a “voice in the conversation”, in response to comments from patients suggesting “staff had let them down”.

Urgent action needed to head off dire nurse shortages in future

closing the gap

closing the gap

Closing the gap report

Scrapping tuition fees for postgraduate nursing courses and giving all student nurses annual grants to cover living costs are among a set of urgent measures put forward by health think tanks to prevent a workforce crisis. They said the NHS in England could be recruiting and retaining enough nurses domestically in five years’ time to meet demand if their suggestions were taken seriously.

Letter gives first glimpse at future nurse workforce strategy

Nurse gender and race

Nurse gender and race

Nursing shortages in England are “unlikely to improve” without seriously ramping up efforts to recruit more students and stop those already in the workforce from leaving. The warning was made in a letter to NHS leaders by those developing a new 10-year workforce plan for the health service.

NMC defends private misconduct hearing for Hawking’s nurse

stephen hawking

stephen hawking

Stephen Hawking

The chief executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Council has defended a decision to hold a misconduct hearing behind closed doors for the former nurse of late scientist Professor Stephen Hawking. Andrea Sutcliffe said she stood by the NMC’s move to try Patricia Dowdy in private. Ms Dowdy was subsequently struck off.

NMC to reduce test fees for overseas nurses to aid recruitment

Nursing and Midwifery Council

NMC confirms new ways overseas nurses can prove English skills

The cost of the tests overseas nurses and midwives must take to work in the UK are being reduced by more than 20%, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has announced. It is also proposing measures to make it easier for people to re-join the register after a career break.

Northern Ireland CNO ‘appalled’ by nurse abuse figures


Northern Ireland

More than 6,000 nurses were attacked at work in Northern Ireland last year, new figures have revealed. The country’s chief nursing officer Charlotte McArdle branded any form of abuse against a healthcare worker ad “totally unacceptable”.

 NICE planning to reduce threshold for hypertension treatment

blood pressure

blood pressure

Thousands more patients look set to benefit from treatment under planned changes to guidance on hypertension. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published a draft guideline update that proposes reducing the risk threshold at which treatment should be started.

Warning over use of standard but ‘ineffective’ hydration tests

The thirst sensation diminishes with age

The thirst sensation diminishes with age

Standard tests used to identify dehydration do not work for older people in care homes, according to a University of East Anglia study that says health professionals should stop relying on them. It suggests such methods “lack even the most basic levels of diagnostic accuracy”.

New obligations on hospital nurses to tackle sepsis

University College London Hospital

Pressure on English A&E departments reaches ‘record high’

Hospital nurses will be required to alert consultants if patients with suspected sepsis do not respond to treatment within an hour, under new rules being brought in to reduce deaths. The guidance is being mandated by NHS England from April.

UK universities named among top three for nursing in the world

King's College London

Leading academic joins London nursing school

King’s College London

Two English universities have been ranked among the top three in the world for nursing studies. King’s College London has been placed second and the University of Manchester ranked third in the 2019 list compiled by Quacquarelli Symonds.

Scottish university launches ‘men are nurses too’ campaign

gcu campus

gcu campus

Glasgow Caledonian University

Nursing lecturers at Glasgow Caledonian University have embarked on a new campaign to get more men to consider a career as a nurse. They launched a “men are nurses too” social media awareness drive and are also planning to visit schools.

Exclusive: New master’s degree course for ophthalmic nurses

moorfields eye hospital

moorfields eye hospital

Moorfields Eye Hospital

A master’s degree programme is being launched to help develop and expand the role of nurses in specialist eye care. The ophthalmic clinical practice MSc course will be delivered in partnership between Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and University College London.

Student Nursing Times Awards shortlist for 2019 announced

Student Nursing Times Awards

Student Nursing Times Awards 2019

The shortlist for the Student Nursing Times Awards 2019 has been announced following a record-breaking year for entries.