25th September 2012 

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Look in the Mirror 

News and Comment from Roy Lilley

The Sunday Mirror isn't usually my prime source of NHS news. It does do the 'Killer bug ate my Granny', or 'Evil nurse stole war-hero's breakfast' quite well. On a good day you might get; 'NHS refuses to pay for miracle pill that cures cancer, verrucae and baldness'.

So, when I read 'NHS trust offers redundancy to ALL 4,000 workers.....' I did reach for Lot's wife. I shouldn't have, it's true:

"Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust... trying to save 15-20million a year, has asked its 4,000 staff if they want to quit". A spokesman said: "We have asked all staff to consider their personal circumstances and, if they wish... make an application... "

Well, it's tough but it makes sense. If you need to cut serious money out of any business, usually, you have to get rid of staff. The NHS is notoriously 'people rich', 70% of its budget is spent on people. Asking around, to see who would like to quit, is better than compulsory measures. It also is likely to appeal to senior, more expensive staff. At the risk of losing experience and under the guise of skill-mix-review, they can often be replaced by cheaper less senior staff. This move is full of dangers but this looks like a Trust that is going down the financial plug-hole. They are desperate.

Towards the end of the Mirror article you'll find this:

"... thousands fewer nurses are being trained.... the number on courses dropped by 12.7% last year. A Nursing Times survey revealed that over three years 8,500 fewer student nurses will graduate. With 200,000 nurses set to retire... there will not be anywhere near enough people to maintain staffing levels."

Professor David Green, vice chancellor of Worcester University, which runs nurse training courses, has written to the PM begging him to intervene to avert a "national disaster". He said: "It is madness to cut the numbers of nurses in training when the reality is that we will, with an ageing population, need more nurses, not less." More here.

There followed a classic quote from the DH.  A fabulous jewel to preserve forever; "The number of nurses per bed is actually increasing. On average, there are now two nurses to every bed in hospital."

Look; there are 349k nurses in the NHS and 137k beds. But, wait a moment. The RCN tells us the ratio of nurses to kids in hospital is 1:4.6 and on elderly medical wards 1:11.3. Wake up meat-head at the DH; the ratio of nurses to patients is important, not nurses to furniture! See here page 3.

And, the number of hospital beds is reducing, not all nurses are at work on the same day (shift patterns, annual leave, sickness and training), there are issues about counting agency nurses and WTEs, plus not all nurses work where there are beds like; in management, in the community, in A&E, in clinics and in people's own homes. Oh and mental health nursing is a whole different ball-game. I guess the DH thinks Sunday Mirror readers are stupid? Well I'm not....

The DH ploughed on; "Decisions about funding for nurse training places are made on a local level". Err, what about workforce planning, skills assessment, skills planning, planning for age related changes, technological and environmental changes, curriculum alignment, professional development, workforce churning, mobility and demographics.

Gimmestrength! Want the truth - look around you, look where you work. Look in the Mirror!  


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Dr Paul Lambden
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Lynn Young
Lynn Young
This is what I'm hearing.  
Unless you know better.
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>>  LaLite has been very quiet.  Some say he should have been quicker off the mark with 'something or other'.  My view is it is a good sign.  He is obviously taking time to get his head around the issues.  I heard a whisper that he was panicking over A&E closures and ordered a fresh appraisal.  This appears confirmed by this in the Indy.  If he acceeds to demands from locals that a much loved A&E should stay open it will fit the 'localism agenda'.  If he agrees with clinically led closures and amalgamations that fits the NHS agenda.  One of the main aims of the H&SCAct was to limit the SoS's ability to intervene.  Ho. ho!