Sunday, 27 May 2012

CSC tells it like It Is, HEE is no Laughing Matter, the RCNs PC isn’t, the NMC comes to its senses, but Where were my Inclusive Vegetarian Sausages?

If this week’s blog has a title nearly as long as the blog itself, it’s down to the busy, busy week I was involved in last week and the range of issues grappled with. Last week, of course saw the publication of the Commons Select Committee (Health) report on the UK Governments plans to reform the education, training and workforce planning in the NHS. They didn't mince their words in giving their verdict on current plans to handle the £5billion annual budget – the CSC said the plans were unclear and lacked detail. Now there’s a surprise.

They welcomed the creation of Health Education England, and the Local Education and Training Boards (both new organisations aimed at reforming and improving how education and training of the health workforce). What they felt was missing was the detail of just how these organisational entities might work. I am sure there will be others like me who are concerned that these reforms are ‘provider’ organisations driven – NHS Foundation Trusts - and the voice of the patient appears lost in the administrative fiat being performed inthrough their creation. It was something hotly debated last week at the Council of Deans (Health) Summit held at Crewe Hall – a place well worth a visit if you get the chance.

One of the workshops at this event was aimed at exploring HEE and the new system architecture in England – a work shop led by Nicki Latham from the DH. The session was structured around the usual DH rhetoric and somewhat rose tinted view of the world. Unfortunately sitting in the room with Nicki were some formidable, long serving and experienced educationalists. All of whom were happy to help Nicki see a different view of the world. The overall message was a sobering one for all those concerned with providing education and training for the future health care work force. Those taking part in the workshop were people who teacher others about care. They also care for others themselves, and a gentle humour was injected into debate to protect the innocent, but the session was no laughing matter.

Neither was the debate about how the CoD should respond to the RCNs commission’ into nurse education and training. Every University in the 4 countries of the UK was represented at the meeting. Almost universally there was little appetite to engage in the work of the RCN and this self appointed commission. Some members had tried and failed to get Peter Carter to address the so called issues facing the nursing profession from an evidenced based perspective instead of what appears to be a reliance on largely anecdotal based views of the current state of development of the nursing profession. 

So it was good to hear from Judith Ellis at the Summit. She is the Interim Chair for the NMC and presented a completely grounded assessment of the issues facing the NMC and the nursing profession. Importantly they were clear about their remit and what to focus upon the immediate and long term. Some of the data she used to construct her argument about what needs to be done were compelling. For example, the NMC holds a register of some 680,000 nurse (the largest regulatory body in the world).

Currently the NMC has 82 Approved Educational Institutions (our School is one of these), and some 1034 nurse education programmes approved. It spends some £43million of its annual registration fee income of £52million on Fitness for Practice cases (but only 0.06% of nurses are involved in these processes) And of the 50 – 70 referrals the NMC receive a week, some 40% are referred back to NHS Foundation Trusts to resolve, being organisational issues rather than professional issues. Interestingly the NMC were not informed about the RCN ‘commission’. However, Peter Carter had a lot to say about the NMC current consultation on raising its annual registration fee from  £76 (no change since 2007) to £120. He said “it was staggering proposal at a time when nurses are under huge finical pressure and it is deeply unfair that the NMC should propose a near 60% increase in fees” – this is from a man who heads up an organisation that charges an £194 annual membership fee. Payment of the RCN subscription will not entitle a single nurse to practice or help protect the public from poor practice.

And last week at Fridays Deputy Vice Chancellors Breakfast Meeting I was told that there was no food for vegetarians as no one had asked for it and they always make bacon rolls and sausage sandwiches’. Now some 11% of the UK adult population are vegetarian (some 4milion people) and there are twice as many women who are vegetarian than men. Despite someone going out to find some non meat sausage (many thanks) the experience provides an interesting insight into how our inclusive approaches to valuing our people have some way to go before they are truly embedded in everything we do!

Now need to get up and start the cooking preparations for later when  35 people are expected for Pimms and canapes on the lawn to celebrate my youngest daughters 30th birthday.