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Two weeks in primary care...News Roundup

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Nursing education places increased in HEE plan

Health Education England (HEE) announced it has commissioned an increase of 13,228 nursing places over the next year, outlined in its National Workforce Plan for 2014/15. This is an increase of nine per cent on 2013/14. These nurses will graduate and begin employment in 2017.

As well as increasing the numbers of nursing education places HEE has said it will also commission 2563 new midwifery training places, maintaining the numbers commissioned in 2013/14. It is hoped that this, in conjunction with a focus on the high attrition rates for students, will lead to a record number of midwives graduating and entering NHS employment.

The Workforce Plan also outlined how HEE will continue to maintain the Coalition's pledge to increase numbers of health visitors by commissioning 1041 new places this year. This is a decrease on last year but reflects the fact that the pledged number of health visitors has been met and these numbers need to be maintained.


Complex births put pressure on midwives

The growing number of births to older women is putting pressure on midwives, stated a report by the Royal College of Midwives(RCM) released in December 2013.

Births to older mothers, have continued to rise faster than for younger age groups and these require more complex input from midwives. In 2012, there were 85 per cent more babies born to women in England aged 40 or over than there had been in 2001.

Obesity in pregnancy is another area of growing complexity.

The third annual report by the RCM detailed the pressures of an ageing workforce dealing with increasingly complex pregnancies. Pressures include rising demands from and higher expectations of mothers, massive shortages of midwives and concerns about the morale of an ageing midwifery workforce. The report can be found at:


New Year's Honours for community nurses

Seventeen nurses or former nurses were recommended to receive honours from the Queen in the New Year.

The list includes Helene Donnelley, the Mid Staffordshire whistle blower, who has been awarded an OBE for raising concerns about patient care at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Candice Pellett, a district nurse from Lincolnshire Community Health Services, received an OBE for her services to nursing. Rosslyn Crocket, director of nursing at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, was awarded an MBE for her services to nursing and midwifery. Community nurse Elizabeth Hay, from Aviemore, Inverness-shire, received an MBE for services to healthcare and charity.

A number of other people included in the list received honours for services to nursing, healthcare and the community.

Breast Cancer

Ethnic differences may be due to lifestyle factors

Lifestyle differences could be one of the main reasons for lower breast cancer rates in South Asian and black women, research published in the British Journal of Cancer suggested.

Data from the Million Women Study showed that South Asian women had an 18 per cent lower rate of breast cancer and black women had a 15 per cent lower rate of breast cancer compared with white women.

South Asian and black women drink less alcohol and have more children than white women. These are both factors in influencing the risk of breast cancer.

Many of the black and South Asian women in the study were first-generation immigrants and the authors suggested it was likely that, as subsequent generations changed their lifestyles, their risk of breast cancer would increase.


New plan to commission specialised services

NHS England announced it is developing a five-year vision and strategy for the commissioning of specialist services.

It is seeking ideas from healthcare professionals, patients, and the public for ideas of how changes could be made to specialised services. The proposals may include changes to a service, system or pathway, which could improve or make systems more efficient for service users. Proposals should explain the root of the problem and how improvements might be made.

Submissions will be used to define goals and objectives, and inform the changes made to the way specialised services are commissioned.

The proposal form can be found at


More student nurses to start this year in Scotland

The number of student nurses and midwives entering degree programmes funded by the Scottish government this year is to increase by almost seven per cent.

A total of 2698 students will begin their training in October this year, which is a 6.6 per cent increase on the 2013/14 figure of 2530.

In particular, the number of student midwives beginning training will increase from 140 to 160, which is a 14.3 per cent increase.

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