According to a paper published by the University of Central Lancashire (R.Barret 2017)Drug errors are the cause of 25% of all legal proceedings in the NHS . The author continues with the assertion that 'calculation errors that result in medication errors cost the NHS more than £750 million pounds per year'. We can all agree that patient safety is paramount, and the NHS cannot ignore the rising costs related to these errors. This is particularly acute in the current
financial climate, where cuts are being made in the NHS to reduce spending against a backdrop of the single greatest test the NHS has faced since its 1948 inception with the 2020/21 COVID-19 pandemic.
Learn Drugs Calculation and Curb Anxiety
As a maths teacher - I see first hand how anxiety effects the ability of students to grasp even basic mathematical concepts
Whilst, the current pandemic will, in time subside, the ongoing problem of unnecessary deaths and associated costs to the NHS, will not. Barret continues her assertions that drugs calculation errors are not just a symptom of poor maths ability for both student nurses and qualified nurses alike, but a product of the lack of confidence in maths - or put another way - 'maths anxiety'
Indeed, the author of this piece and owner of Nursenet is only all to aware of the impacts of maths anxiety both from a medical standpoint and in the wider population.
As a maths teacher in a modern secondary school I am constantly reminded that most students find maths challenging and students often enter the maths classroom with dread.
Barret infers that maths anxiety are :
'general lack of comfort that someone suffers when they are asked to perform mathematically, it may also be a feeling of helplessness or tension when one is asked to deal with numbers or shapes. People may experience physical discomfort, dry mouth, sweating hands, and psychological symptoms including temporary memory loss or sense of failure or dread.'
In a recent poll conduced by Nursenet, over 50% of respondents stated that their maths ability was either unsecure at best or 'very limited'
I concur - I have seen maths anxiety first- hand in the classroom manifest itself more often than not as physical and emotional breakdown. Moreover, many of the student I teach wish to pursue a career in healthcare and are aware that they need at least grade 4 GCSE to get onto a nursing degree program. Many will, unfortunately, give up on their dreams of becoming a nurse at the first hurdle when in reality, with support and guidance, these 'would- be' nurses could enter the profession if it were not for their fear of the maths .
In a recent poll commissioned by Nursenet using 3 social media channels the results were a stark reminder of the overriding lack of confidence that practicing nurses feel about their own maths ability. Whilst we appreciate that our methodology would not stand up to academic rigor, we do believe the results provide an anecdotal snapshot into drugs calculation competency in the NHS- with over 25% of nurses, citing even basic maths as something beyond their comprehension.
Whilst there is clearly no quick fix- it is our contention that reducing maths anxiety in nurses should be addressed through a consolidated and easily accessible platform for nurses to practice drugs calculations tests without having to sign up to expensive crash course test preparation websites the night before a drugs calculation test. Moreover, whilst there are several 'paid' for providers of maths content targeting nurses - it's pretty unreasonable to expect nurses to have to pay for tuition to provide a service that we ALL benefit from.
To that end, our motivation was simple - build a free maths resource written by maths teachers who know how to scaffold maths content correctly- enabling nurses of all ages and experience access a free website to build their confidence. with the launch of nursenet numeracyin April 2020 the site has been visited over 18,000 times with over 42,000 drugs calculation questions attempted. In our own way- we are trying to reduce maths anxiety in nurses without asking for a penny!
So far 186 cases and 51 deaths have been linked to a Covid-19 outbreak at the hospital, although infection rates appear to have stabilised more recently.
Dr Conway said the experience has been "horrendous" for staff working hard to care for patients during the latest wave of the coronavirus, who have received abuse both in person and on social media about infection rates within the hospital.
"I know of some awful cases where nurses have been emotionally attacked outside of work - there has been some name-calling, people have been victimised - that has been horrendous."
"Some of the nurses have experienced awful emotional abuse on social media or while out walking.
"I feel incredibly sorry for them in particular because I have witnessed the most dedicated team of nurses throughout all of the wards here, I am incredibly proud of them - they have looked after people and their families so well."
Along with infections at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, there have also been significant outbreaks at the Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board's other two large hospitals.
The Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend has recorded 180 cases and 40 deaths so far, while there have been 90 cases and 20 deaths linked to an outbreak at the Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil.
He said abuse in person, over the phone or online was "totally unacceptable" and would not be tolerated.
"We are immensely proud of our workforce and their well-being is paramount as we head into what will inevitably be a difficult winter.
"We are calling on everyone across our communities to support our staff and recognise the incredible work they are doing at this challenging time."
Dr David Bailey, chairman of the Welsh Council of the British Medical Association said some patients were lashing out in frustration which was "clearly not helping anyone".
He added: "There's an awful lot of long-term problems that are building up at the moment and I think people are just becoming frustrated, they're becoming impatient when they hear the news that there is something [Covid-related] coming up.
"They're becoming impatient to start to return to something like their normal lives."
Updated figures for infections at hospitals within the Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board area are due to be published on Tuesday.
Health board bosses say staff have worked hard to tighten up infection control procedures, but insist it is very difficult to prevent hospital infections when Covid is spreading widely in local communities.
Last week the chief executive of NHS Wales reiterated that view while insisting the numbers of people catching Covid in hospital only accounted for a small percentage of total infections.
Andrew Goodall said: "I want to be clear, this is not as simple as a failure of hand-washing or poor infection control procedures,"
"This virus is highly infectious and it can be passed on in the asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic and symptomatic phases of the infection.
"It is incredibly difficult to prevent its spread in busy healthcare environments, especially with around 90 people with Covid currently admitted each day," he told journalists last Tuesday.
Nursing careers made more accessible through ‘earn and learn’ route
Up to 2,000 nursing apprentices to be trained every year for the next 4 years
Nursing careers in England will be made more accessible through a new government package worth up to £172 million, which will enable healthcare employers to take on up to 2,000 nursing degree apprentices every year over the next 4 years.
The news comes as interest in health careers has surged, with the number of people looking for information on nursing on the NHS careers website rising by 138% between March and June.
Nursing degree apprenticeships provide a route into nursing where people can train to nationally recognised standards and earn as they learn, benefiting those for whom a full-time university course is not practical or preferred.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
I’m thrilled to see a rising interest in nursing careers, but we must ensure this fantastic career is truly diverse and open to all.
Nursing apprenticeships allow students to earn as they learn and this new funding will enable healthcare employers to hire thousands more, helping us to deliver 50,000 more nurses by the end of this Parliament.
Gillian Keegan, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister said:
Nursing apprenticeships are a brilliant way to start a truly rewarding career with our fantastic NHS. Nurses are at the heart of our NHS and their care, compassion and support of patients save and transform lives across the country every day.
This multi-million pound funding boost will help to support thousands of apprentices to gain the skills they need, and earn while they learn. Apprenticeships are an excellent way for anyone, regardless of their background, to kick start their career or to progress.
NHS and other healthcare employers will receive £8,300 per placement per year for both new and existing apprenticeships. Nursing degree apprentices already receive a salary and have their tuition costs paid for through the apprenticeship programme. The funding will enable employers to meet the costs of taking on apprentices, including staffing costs while apprentices are undertaking education and training.
The nursing degree apprenticeship is a 4-year course with placements available in the 4 fields of adult, children, mental health and learning disability, after which students can qualify as fully registered nurses. NHS and social care employers currently train around 1,000 nurse apprentices every year.
In addition to this funding, employers in England will also benefit from a new payment announced last month of £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and £1,500 for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, up until 31 January 2021.
The news comes the week after the NHS People Plan was published setting out how the NHS will put staff wellbeing at its heart with a new recruitment, retention and support package. It sets out practical support for wellbeing such as safe spaces to rest and recuperate, wellbeing guardians and support to keep staff physically safe and healthy.
The number of adults entering the Social Care profession is in serious decline according to new data:
In its latest workforce analysis report, Skills for Care found that there were an estimated 36,000 registered nurse jobs in the adult social care sector in 2019-20.
The numbers had “gradually decreased year-on-year” and were down 15,500 (30%) since 2012-13. Nurse jobs had reduced by 3,000 (7%) since 2018-19.
Registered nursing was the only profession to see a decline in workforce numbers over the period analysed, while jobs overall in the sector increased by 9% to 1.65 million roles in 2019-20
"The significant drop in nurses working in adult social care is disappointing"
The report said the nurse reduction “may be related to recruitment and retention issues”.
However, it added that it “also may have come about as a result of some organisations creating ‘nursing assistant’ roles to take on some tasks previously carried out by nurses”.
Skills for Care said it would be monitoring the situation going forward.
Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive and registrar at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), and previous chief inspector for adult social care at the Care Quality Commission, described the drop in nurse numbers as “disappointing”.
“A welcome and necessary overall increase in the number of people choosing to work in adult social care comes as we’re celebrating record numbers of people on the NMC register as shown in our latest registration data reports,” said Ms Sutcliffe.
“But the significant drop in nurses working in adult social care is disappointing, especially when Covid-19 has shown just how critical this group of professionals is in caring for people living in some of the most vulnerable circumstances right across the UK.”
She said the NMC would continue to fight to ensures nurses in social care “feel valued and recognised” and that nursing students were given work experiences in the sector.
"Both providers and the adult social care workforce need to be prioritised as they remain at the frontline in combatting Covid-19"
The report - The size and structure of the adult social care sector and workforce in England – also included future workforce forecasts.
It said if the workforce grew at the same rate as the projected number of people aged 65 and over in the population, jobs would increase by 32% to around 2.17 million by 2035.
The latest data in the report was taken between April 2019 to March 2020, before the height of the coronavirus pandemic, and therefore “does not show how Covid-19 has impacted the adult social care workforce”.
“Rather it should be used as a baseline to reflect the composition of the workforce prior to Covid-19 and to give context to any further research or data collected after March 2020,” stated the document.
Professor Martin Green
Figures from the first quarter of 2020-21 – between March and June – showed an increase in staff sickness, with the average number of days off at 8.0% compared with 2.4% pre-Covid-19.
Meanwhile, the staff vacancy rate for the sector was down since the crisis, with a reduction in demand for services “likely a contributing factor”.
Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, which represents independent providers, said the report “highlights in stark terms the need for further investment in the adult social care sector if we are to meet the demographic demands of the future”.
He added: “This report makes it crystal clear that in the coming weeks and months, both providers and the adult social care workforce need to be prioritised as they remain at the frontline in combatting Covid-19.”
The Myths and legends of the Public sector pay increase and what this means for Nurses:
Much of the coverage on Tuesday (Coronavirus: almost 900,000 public sector workers to get pay rise, says Sunak, 21 July) suggested that public sector workers were to benefit from Rishi Sunak’s largesse, but the headlines conveyed a misleading picture. In fact, less than a quarter of some 4.4 million public sector employees are affected by the announcement, which simply accepts the recommendations of independent pay review bodies. The modest increases come after nearly a decade of real-term pay cuts, which have eroded the value of salaries among large sections of the workforce by more than 20% since 2010.
How the pay rise effects different public sector workers:
Police, prison officers and National Crime Agency staff will be given a 2.5% rise in pay and members of the armed forces will receive a 2% uplift. Meanwhile, members of the judiciary and senior civil servants will also see their pay topped up by 2%.
Doctors will recieve a pay rise of 2.8% backdated to April 2020 but there are no more nurse pay
Doctors to recieve 2,8% pay increase but no pay rise for nurses
Government must invest in nursing students to fix workforce crisis
The report, Beyond the Bursary: Workforce Supply, states that the government must provide adequate financial support for nursing students, including reimbursing tuition fees or forgiving current debt for all nursing, midwifery, and allied health care students impacted by the removal of the bursary; abolishing self-funded tuition fees for all nursing, midwifery, and allied health care students starting in 2020/21 and beyond; and introducing universal, living maintenance grants that reflect actual student need.
‘The pandemic has shone a light like never before on the work of nurses. It also saw many thousands of student nurses come forward to provide their services across the NHS. Yet when they
Student debt a major factor for newly qualified student nurses
finish their training, they will be left with tens of thousands of pounds of debt which, for many, will never be paid off,’ said RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair.
There are simply not enough nurses being trained in this country and we can no longer rely on recruiting from overseas. Unless urgent action is taken, we could see vacancy numbers reach 100,000 by the end of the decade. Now is the time to grow our domestic workforce supply and properly invest in the training of new nurses to deliver safe and effective care in every acute and community setting, in both health and social care, across the country.’
In 2017, the government removed the nursing bursary in England, which had supported students as they studied to become qualified nurses. Following a subsequent decline in nursing degree applicants, the government announced an annual maintenance grant of between £5000 and £8000 per student from this September. While this year has seen a small uplift in applications, they are still down by 17% from 2016/17 – the final year in which student nurses did not have to pay their own fees.
The fall in nursing student numbers comes amid wider concerns about nursing numbers. Going into the COVID-19 pandemic, there were almost 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England alone. Furthermore, a recent RCN survey of approximately 42,000 members in England showed that 36% were thinking of leaving the profession – up from 27% at the end of 2019.
Nearly 900,000 public sector workers to receive pay rise, Rishi Sunak says
Nearly 90,000 public sector workers, including Doctors, Teachers and the Police will receive on average 3.1% pay rises. However, many frontline NHS staff including nurses will miss out.
Government sources cite that nurses have already received inflation busting pay rises overt he past few years and it would be economically untenable to increase pay further.
Sunak commented that:
“These past months have underlined what we always knew, that our public sector workers make a vital contribution to our country and that we can rely on them when we need them,” Mr Sunak said in a statement.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces public sector pay rise of up to 3.1%
When the coronavirus pandemic began, some agency nurses may have thought that they would be called on in greater numbers as demand for nursing staff escalated.
This couldn't be further from the truth:
Suspension of elective work by acute hospitals and a huge reduction in people going to emergency departments has meant work has dried up for some.
It's been widely reported in the nursing press of stories where agency nurses have worked only a few shifts against a backdrop of acute demand within the NHS as a result of the Covid -19 pandemic.
High ICU pay days not materialised:
ICU is one area where there was expected to be massive demand for staff. Although agencies are reluctant to talk about the money on offer, some have advertised rates of up to £600 a day – often with free accommodation – for nurses willing to work with COVID-positive patients for extended periods.
However, patient-staff ratios have been loosened in ICUs, with up to six patients being looked after by one ICU nurse, supported by other nurses and also operation department practitioners, according to British Association of Critical Care Nurses chair Nicki Credland.
A drop a in shift work leads to financial difficulties
Agency nurses, including those who are employed through an umbrella company, can be furloughed under the government’s scheme. The government has said it would pay 80% of the wages of furloughed workers until the end of June, up to a limit of £2,500 a month.
From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees who have been furloughed, for any amount of time and any shift pattern, and still claim the government grant for 80% of their usual hours.
For some agency staff who find themselves without work this scheme may be a godsend. But there are limitations – the nurse would have to be furloughed for at least three weeks, and normally cannot do any paid work during this time.
And the regulations mean they are likely to need either the agency or an umbrella company to verify the furlough.
Nurses who are self-employed may also benefit from a payment of £2,500 a month and can continue working without penalty. There are restrictions on who is entitled to claim under both these schemes.