News round-up (20 January 2023)

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19th January 2023 about a 4 minute read

The news continues to be dominated by staff strikes in the NHS, with nurses and ambulance workers choosing to strike on the same day for the first time. NHS England is to introduce voluntary redundancy for some managerial staff and former members of NHSX and NHS Digital. The crisis in the NHS is being felt in maternity, as CQC figures show a decline in the number of positive maternity experiences compared with five years ago.

Nurses and ambulance staff will strike on same day in February

Both nurses and ambulance workers will take strike action in England and Wales on 6 February.

This is the first time that ambulance staff and nursing staff will strike on the same day. The GMB union has announced four strike days for ambulance workers in coming weeks: 6 and 20 February, and 6 and 20 March.

Royal College of Nursing members took strike action on two days this week.

CQC names seven trusts with substantially worse maternity care

The trusts where women have the worst experience of maternity care have been identified by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The CQC collected responses from almost 21,000 women about their experiences of antenatal care, labour and birth and postnatal care across 121 trusts in February 2022. It then identified trusts where experiences of care were better or worse overall when compared with survey results for all trusts in England.

One trust – Dudley Group Foundation Trust – had “much worse than expected” results in 2022. Seven trusts (University Hospitals Dorset FT, North Middlesex University Hospital Trust, St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust, Milton Keynes University Hospital FT, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals FT and East and North Hertfordshire Trust) all had “worse than expected” results.

The CQC’s survey showed a “notable decline” overall in positive maternity experiences, with fewer women being able to get help when they needed it compared with five years ago.

NHS England publishes details of voluntary redundancy scheme

NHS England has published details of a voluntary redundancy scheme, which aims to cut headcount by up to 40% and help “minimise any need for compulsory redundancy.”

The first round of the scheme, which will run to 8 February, will be open to senior managers “in some areas of the business, where the work on designs suggest the need to reduce the number of senior roles,” HSJ has reported.

It will also be open to staff working in the agency’s new transformation directorate, some of whom previously worked for NHSX or NHS Digital. It will not, however, be open to those with “specialist technical skills that are difficult to recruit and retain”.

Trusts offering inferior pensions to some staff

Some NHS trusts are denying staff employed by wholly-owned subsidiary companies access to the NHS pension, and providing them instead with pension schemes that are less generous, an HSJ investigation has found.

Subsidiary companies are organisations that are wholly owned by foundation trusts but have a different board. They are used to provide services such as cleaning, catering and portering to the NHS. Some trusts are paying subsidiary company staff less than the lowest Agenda for Change rate, as well as offering reduced uplift payments for unsocial hours at evenings and weekends, and lower maternity and sick pay rates than those enjoyed by directly employed NHS staff.

Nine in 10 cancer survival rates worse in UK than in Europe

Survival rates in nine out of 10 cancers are worse in the UK than in Europe – and this is the result of delays in adopting new drugs, a new study says.

The study, published by NHS Confederation and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), says that the NHS appears “uncomfortable with innovation”, even though it could save lives. It also argues that “conservatism” and “ageist assumptions” mean too many patients are being denied the treatments they need.

It said that improving access to innovative medicines would improve productivity, benefiting the entire economy.

Wales to benefit from single digital system for maternity services

The Welsh government is to spend £7m on creating a single country-wide digital system for maternity services, with the aim of improving care for women and babies.

The new system will enable staff to share information about the health of pregnant women and their unborn babies quickly. Mothers-to-be will be able to gain digital access to their records via the he NHS Wales app and website. messages to expectant mums to help support a healthy pregnancy.

Procurement has not yet started, but the system is likely to be rolled out within the next two to three years.