Following reports last week that the Chancellor had proposed a transitional deal after Brexit, he has now suggested that such a deal would have to end by June 2022, before the next general election. The Chancellor is looking to ensure there is “business as usual” in the immediate aftermath of Brexit to provide confidence to businesses, and emphasised that it would be “some time before we are able to introduce full migration controls between the UK and the European Union” as new IT infrastructure will need to be implemented.

Statistics reveal 16% increase in nursing and midwifery vacancies

Statistics published by NHS Digital have demonstrated a 16% increase in the number of vacancies advertised for nursing and midwifery positions between March 2016 and March 2017, prompting further concerns for the professions. The data was accompanied by separate statistics showing the number of full time equivalent nursing and health visitor staff fell by 1,274 between March and April 2017, which the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) branded “a double whammy of bad news for nursing.” The RCN’s analysis also indicated that the number of nurses with more than ten years’ experience who are leaving the profession each year has doubled from 300 in 2013/14 to 600 last year.

The chief executive of the RCN, Janet Davies, commented that “A lethal cocktail of factors is resulting in too few nurses and patient care is suffering. The Government desperately needs to keep the experienced staff still working in the NHS.” The RCN is continuing its Summer of Protest against the public sector pay cap, planning a rally in central London and a drop-in event in Parliament, both on 6th September.

Scottish Government publishes evaluation of early adopter sites for Refocused School Nurse Programme

The Scottish Government has published an evaluation of the early adoption of the refined role for school nurses. Dumfries and Galloway NHS Boards and Tayside NHS Board adopted the new role, which required school nurses and the wider school health teams to focus on nine priority areas and work within a new referral system, in September 2015. These Health Boards’ school nurses focused on mental health, substance misuse, child protection, domestic abuse, Looked After Children, homeless children and families, children involved in the Youth Justice System, young carers and transition points.

The evaluation found that focusing on these priority areas “undoubtedly made the school nurse role more focused and standardised”, but there was controversy among professionals about which areas were included and excluded. The referral system allowing children to be referred through a pupil support teacher was also praised as ensuring that school nurses “receive mainly relevant referrals”, but also criticised for providing a barrier to accessing nurses in some instances. School nurses also reported that “it was generally recognised that they are now less accessible to the wider school population.”

Going forward, other Scottish Health Boards will be encouraged to adopt these new ways of working but “develop their own pathways as referral mechanisms and resources differ locally.” It is thought that staff will receive training for this new way of working over the next five years.

Former health minister warns of GP shortages

The former health minister and Labour MP Ben Bradshaw has suggested that the Government is “in denial” about the realities of GP workforce shortages. Bradshaw, who was a health minister under Gordon Brown and has recently been re-elected to sit on the Health Select Committee, highlighted that the Government’s plans to place GPs in A&E departments will exacerbate recruitment issues when coupled with existing shortages. He stated that the Government “is even now admitting it will have to try to attract thousands of new GPs from other EU countries, to fill the shortfall, which will be impossible under the hard Brexit being pursued by Mrs May.”

The Government allocated £100 million to fund A&E streaming in the Spring Budget following concerns about the performance of A&E departments during winter. The model is based on a streaming system implemented at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, which is said to employ two to three GPs to staff the system each day. It has been suggested that if rolled out nationally this would require between 278 and 417 GPs to work in A&E departments every day.