Number of nurses down by 4,800 in the last two years The number of qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff working in the NHS has fallen by more than 4,800 since April 2010, official figures have revealed. There are currently 276,608 qualified nurses working in the health service, Health inequality gap is widening The proportion of people engaging in unhealthy lifestyle behaviours has fallen significantly, but almost all the improvement has been among higher socio-economic groups, a King's Fund report has found. The study analysed changes in the prevale GPs slow to adopt online records Just 1 per cent of general practices are providing patients with online access to electronic health records, it has been clamed. According to a report by think tank 2020Health, the use of Personal Health Records, which allow patients to add an Cost of 'free' home care in Scotland rises The Scottish government is facing calls to review its policy offering free personal care to people in their own homes after the cost of the scheme rose by 157 per cent in the last seven years. The Free Personal and Nursing Care policy (FPNC) c Vaccination Kids must have MMR jab, parents are told Oncology Patients reluctant to discuss bowel cancer Ministers keep 'close eye' on job numbers for newly qualified HVs The DH is keeping 'a close eye' on how many jobs have been created to accommodate more than a thousand health visitors expected to qualify this month, amid concerns there will not be sufficient posts available A strategy for the future of nursing News focus - Professor Viv Bennett is the UK's first ever director of nursing within the Department of Health. Chris Parr meets her NMC fee hike opposed by 'blameless' nurses The vast majority of nurses and midwives are opposed to a 58 per cent increase in the NMC registration fee, according to separate surveys by the three biggest nursing unions. Nurses left 'in the dark' by local clinical commissioning groups More than three quarters of practice nurses do not feel engaged with the work of their clinical commissioning group (CCG), an Independent Nurse survey has found. Boosting the care of young people When the independent Children and Young People's Health Outcomes Forum was established in January, its work was billed by the DH as a genuine chance to improve the availability and quality of healthcare provided to youngsters by the NHS. It will inform th UK hospital admission rates vary significantly The NHS would need around 7,000 fewer emergency hospital beds if all areas of England achieved the same rate of admission and average length of stay for over 65s as those with the lowest use, independent health charity the King's Fund has said. Specialist nurses key to alcohol services Increasing alcohol specialist nurse services across England could help prevent hospital admissions resulting from alcohol misuse, an influential group of MPs has said. Diabetes costs 'could bankrupt the NHS' Diabetes prescriptions given to primary care patients in England topped 40 million for the first time last year, following a 50 per cent increase in six years. Ministerial rethink on 'Dilnot cap' Ministers are expected to rethink social care policy proposals, announced last month, and to introduce a cap on the amount of money elderly people are expected to pay towards the cost of their social care. CCG recruitment rules may be relaxed The rule requiring CCGs to recruit their lead nurse board member from outside the local area could be relaxed if groups struggle to find a suitable candidate, the NHS Commissioning Board Authority (NHSCBA) has admitted. Health secretary intervenes to investigate NMC's fee rise plans Around 80,000 nurses have put their name to a petition calling on the NMC to reverse plans to increase its registration fee from ?76 to ?120 - a rise of almost 60 per cent. Food campaigners blast Olympic sponsorship The Children's Food Campaign is calling on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to take a tougher stance on the food and drink companies it allows to sponsor the Olympics. Nurses key to delivering the UK's Olympic health legacy The UK's most senior public health nurse has called on primary care and community nurses to capitalise on the success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Degree-level nurses 'not too posh to wash' The move to degree-level registration of all nurses in the UK does not appear to affect their ability or desire to care with compassion as well as expertise. Sharps injury consultation goes live Proposals to introduce regulations on medical sharps injuries, designed to protect healthcare workers from injuries, have been put to a public consultation. Lansley calls for audit of NMC fee increase plans Health secretary Andrew Lansley has written to the NMC calling for an independent assessment of the regulator's proposals to increase registration fees. Health and Wellbeing Board consultation opens Proposals for the duties of health and well-being boards have been published today by the DH, and an eight-week pubic consultation on the plans is now open. Vaccinate nurses against whooping cough, JCVI says Nurses working with babies should be vaccinated against whooping cough to protect them against the infection and to stop them passing it on to their very young patients, the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said. Appointment of NMC chair causes 'grave concern' The NMC has expressed 'grave concerns' about the way in which its new chair, appointed last month, was selected.