Nurse recruitment changes planned
Published on 26 March 2013 12:00 PM
The Government plans to change the way NHS nurses are recruited as part of efforts to drive up standards of care.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will announce a requirement for aspiring nurses to work as a healthcare assistant or support worker for a year before they are able to apply to become a nurse.
It will boost public confidence that nurses are able to provide effective and compassionate care, he will say.
The Health Secretary is announcing the plan as part of the Government's response to the Francis Report, which highlighted the 'appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people' at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009 due to serious failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
It was shown in the report that patients were given the wrong medication, left lying in their own urine and excrement for days and forced to drink water from vases.
The routine neglect may have led to the needless deaths of as many as 1,200 patients, the report found.
A 'completely inadequate standard of nursing'
Robert Francis QC identified a 'completely inadequate standard of nursing' on some wards at the hospital and a staff culture lacking in compassion.
While also noting major problems in leadership, staffing levels, recruitment and training, he made 290 recommendations for healthcare regulators, providers and the Government.
Under Mr Hunt's proposals - which are subject to pilot schemes - students applying for NHS funding to do nursing degrees will work as healthcare assistants or support workers either as part of their degree or as a pre-condition of their funding for the degree.
He argues this will provide them with 'hands-on' experience of patient care.
Minimum training standards and a code of conduct for health and care support workers will also be introduced as part of the Government's response to the Francis Report.
'A call to action'
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK commented: 'The Government's commitment to put patients first in the NHS is the right approach and must now be backed up with swift action. Older patients need a revolution in the way the NHS approaches their care. This won't be achieved by focussing on systems and professionals alone. Patients must be brought into the heart of the NHS.
'They must be encouraged and supported to play a central role in shaping the care they want and need and we look to the Government to announce further practical measures over the next few months to ensure this happens. For example, the views of patients and their families should influence how doctors and nurses are performance managed, and how hospitals and care homes are inspected and graded.
'Over time, the proposals announced today, like improved nurse training, should address many of the issues raised by the Francis report and improve our system of health and care, but they will often take years to make an impact. Yet 65% of those in hospital beds today are aged 65 or over, and many of them are frail, suffering with dementia and with complicated conditions; they cannot wait for the dignified care and compassion they need and deserve. The Government's response is a call to action to every person who works in the NHS to take responsibility for improving their care right now.'
Copyright Press Association 2013