Analysis

Pay restraint, bursaries and plans for a 7-day NHS make for a turbulent year

January

The year begins with trade unions and the Department of Health (DH) at loggerheads over pay, but a walkout by NHS staff is averted at the last minute with an offer of a 1% pay rise. Nurses recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list included RCN Wales director Tina Donnelly made a CBE for services to nursing, the armed forces and trade unionism. Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey, who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone, is discharged from hospital in London after recovering, and Cecilia Anim becomes RCN president.

NHS staff protest over pay restraint at a march in London

RCN chief executive Janet Davies

RCN president Cecilia Anim urges a rethink on safe staffing

Jacqui Berry challenges the health secretary on YouTube

The emergency response to the Shoreham airshow crash

Nurses mark 100 years since Edith Cavell’s death

Nurse Pauline Cafferkey, right, after her second recovery

Nurse of the Year, domestic violence support champion Amanda Burston

February

In a review of NHS whistleblowing, Sir Robert Francis says there is a ‘serious problem’. It reveals that staff who reported poor care have been driven out of their jobs, leaving others afraid to speak up. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) publishes a revised code of conduct. Peter Carter announces he will leave the RCN after eight years as chief executive and general secretary.

March

Lord Willis’ review of nurse education finds the current model is not fit for the future. He suggests students spend the first two years of their degree developing a solid grounding before specialising in their third year, then having a year of preceptorship. Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams gives evidence to a Welsh assembly committee on her safe nurse staffing bill and says only legislation can achieve safe staffing levels. Unions accept a pay deal offered by the government that means most nurses in England receive a 1% pay rise.

April

Nurses demonstrate outside parliament and St Thomas’ Hospital in London over the DH’s plan to review unsocial hours pay and reduce the hours that qualify for the premium. All NHS organisations will be judged on how well they treat staff from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities, it is announced. The Workforce Race Equality Standard will use indicators such as the likelihood of BME staff entering formal disciplinary processes and being appointed from shortlists.

May

The Conservatives vow to press ahead with plans to introduce a full seven-day NHS by 2020 after winning the general election. The Unite union warns that there are insufficient staff to work a five-day week and says the government will not find extra people to work a seven-day week for less pay. Amanda Burston is named the RCN Nurse of the Year at the Nursing Standard Nurse Awards in London for spearheading a domestic violence service in an emergency department.

June

An announcement that work by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence into safe nursing and midwifery staffing levels is to end is met with dismay. England’s chief nurse Jane Cummings says NHS England will instead look at staffing across all professions in the health service. But in her speech at RCN congress in Bournemouth, the college’s president Cecilia Anim calls for a U-turn and says she is ‘deeply worried’ by the move. Janet Davies is announced as the new RCN chief executive and general secretary.

July

Chancellor George Osborne says in his budget speech that the government will not fund annual pay rises above an average 1% for the total NHS workforce until 2020. The independent NHS pay review body also says a full seven-day service can only be introduced – with static staff numbers – by reducing pay for unsocial hours. Almost one quarter of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans health workers have been subjected to insults at work, a survey by the charity Stonewall shows.

August

Exclusive research by Nursing Standard reveals nearly one fifth of nursing directors in England have been in the post for a year or less. Data from 171 NHS trusts show just nine have had the same director for a decade or longer. Nurse Jacqui Berry says she is ‘overwhelmed’ by the response to her YouTube video – which had 34,000 views – in which she says health secretary Jeremy Hunt is accusing NHS staff of being a ‘bunch of nine-to-fivers’ in the debate over seven-day services. Nurse Tony Kemp, a member of the British Association for Immediate Care, is one of the first clinically trained people at the scene of the Shoreham airshow crash, in which 11 people died.

September

The amount NHS trusts in England spend on agency nurses will be capped under new rules, Monitor and the Trust Development Authority announce. Trusts are told they will have their own annual ceiling for nurse agency spending, ranging from 3% to 12% of their total nursing staff spend.

October

The NMC gives the go-ahead for the introduction of the new registration model – revalidation – in April 2016. It will be more robust than the previous system, vows NMC chief executive Jackie Smith. The government bows to pressure from leading NHS organisations and gives nursing priority status when overseas recruits apply to work in the UK. In a ceremony, nurses dress in first world war uniforms to mark 100 years since the death of Edith Cavell. Miss Cavell was executed in 1915 for refusing to hand over Allied soldiers to German authorities.

November

Nursing Standard reveals that nurses could lose the value of any NHS pay rise from April because of changes to their pension scheme. Members of the scheme will have to pay an extra 1.4% national insurance contribution next year, which could effectively erase any potential pay award for nurses. Pauline Cafferkey is discharged from the Royal Free Hospital in London after recovering from Ebola for a second time. The Welsh bill to introduce safe nurse staffing levels moves one step closer to becoming law after passing a committee stage.

December

The government announces that it is scrapping the bursary for nursing students, who will have to take out loans and pay tuition fees. Unison head of nursing Gail Adams says students in 2020 could graduate with debts of £50,000, but the government says the move will pay for up to 10,000 new training places and mean students have access to more financial support.

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