RCN Health News Alert

Friday 3 July

Conservatives suggest economic downturn could mean NHS pay cuts

Conservative Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has hinted that the current economic climate may mean that NHS staff will have their pay cut. He said financial pressures could see the NHS move to a position "where pay is instead defined by what is necessary to recruit, retain and motivate the staff, and also what is affordable for local healthcare providers". Josie Irwin, Head of Employment Relations at the Royal College of Nursing said: "Given that we are about to enter a period when there is a shortage of nurses, it would be foolish to freeze pay when we should be looking at ways to entice more people to join the profession".

MPs report says that the NHS is putting targets and finances before patient safety

A House of Commons Health Select Committee report has found that NHS managers are putting targets and finances ahead of patient safety. The report says that the failures at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust could be repeated elsewhere and that a 'tick box culture' has spread into the NHS. The report recommends that an independent whistleblowing body should be created to encourage staff to come forward with concerns. The report also warns that doctors and nurses are becoming 'detached' from caring for patients due to managers imposing 'inappropriate regulations'.

Debate on how NHS treats whistleblowers

The Times has an article debating how the NHS treats staff who raise concerns over patient safety. In the article British Medical Association Consultants' Committee Chairman, Dr Jonathan Fielden says that around one in six doctors have said that whistle-blowing could have a negative impact on their career, and that this deters many from raising concerns. He also refers to the Margaret Haywood case, saying that the NMC decision to strike off a nurse for exposing wrongdoing 'was at best a confusing message'. On the other side, Health Minister Ann Keen refers to Government legislation which protects NHS staff who raise concerns with their employer and says that NHS staff should use the independent helpline run through the charity Public Concern at Work if they work in an environment where it is difficult to speak out.

Britain moves to 'treatment phase' for swine flu

Health Secretary Andy Burnham yesterday told the House of Commons that the UK is moving into the 'treatment phase' in dealing with the swine flu virus. Health experts say that around 100,000 cases of swine flu could be diagnosed every day, however Mr Burnham stressed that most people who become infected with the virus were likely to only have mild symptoms.

Government hopes Social Care Green Paper will bring sweeping reforms

The Times has an article previewing next week's Social Care Green Paper. The Government hope that the document will bring significant reforms to the long-term care system for the elderly. Social Care Minister Phil Hope says that the present system is not consistent across the country, and that the Green Paper gives the Government an opportunity 'to reshape the care system'.

Parliamentary Update

Health Select Committee published report on Patient Safety

Department of Health publish report of the NHS Pay Review Body