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Tuesday, 06 June 2006 10:07
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
DOCTORS RENEW CALL FOR ‘ZERO TOLERANCE' ON VIOLENCE, BULLYING AND HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE
Doctors’ leaders in Wales will today renew their call for a policy of ‘zero tolerance’ on violence, bullying and harassment in the workplace. BMA Cymru Wales’ call comes on the day that the Assembly is set to debate the safety of public sector staff.

A recent study by the British Medical Association revealed that 1 in 4 NHS staff have been bullied and harassed by patients and their relatives and nearly 1 in 7 report similar experiences from other members of staff.

Previous research into violence against doctors found that more than a third of respondents had experienced some form of violence in the workplace with almost all being the victim of some form of verbal abuse, threats and physical assaults.

Welsh Secretary of the BMA, Dr Richard Lewis said: “No-one working in a hospital or GP practice should have to put up with the threat of physical or verbal abuse. We’re talking about people who go to work in order to try to alleviate pain and treat ill-health – the fact that they may expect to be punched, kicked or shouted at cannot be tolerated. Doctors and other healthcare workers must be able to work in a safe environment. Attacks on, threats to, and verbal abuse of, doctors cannot be tolerated. We must not allow this situation to drift; it must not come to the point where violence against doctors is accepted as part of the job.

“This is why a policy of 'zero tolerance' is desperately needed.”

Chairman of the BMA's Welsh Council added: "Bullying can take many forms and does not always present as physical or verbal abuse. Mental bullying can be just as devastating to the victim and can lead to serious mental difficulty if it is not addressed.

"There has to be a zero tolerance to such behaviour with a clearly defined and confidential process available for victims to report instances when they occur."

The BMA report has described several ways forward, these include:

· Every NHS organisation, including all deaneries and those involved in training, should have a policy for dealing with bullying and harassment at work. This should also include the provision of support and relevant contacts who can be approached to deal with the situation appropriately;

· Guidance aimed at the specific issues facing students may prevent bullying and harassment at medical school;

· Training for staff must be specific and appropriate and updated regularly;

· Appropriate personal development and training must be invested in senior medical staff to enable them to take on managerial roles and express their authority tactfully;

· If the problem of bullying and harassment in the workplace is to be successfully tackled, support must be provided for all involved parties. This includes confidential, non-judgemental support for the victim and also remedial support for those who are responsible for the bullying. Furthermore, third parties who are aware of the bullying and harassment should feel empowered to challenge the situation or report it to an appropriate manager or colleague.


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Friday, 02 June 2006 10:06
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
IMMIGRATION RULE THREAT TO MEDICAL SCHOOLS
Medical schools could be hit financially as a result of controversial new immigration rules.

Under the rules, students from non-EEA (European Economic Area) countries will have to apply for a work permit after their first two years of work as doctors. Permits will only be granted to non-EEA doctors if suitable EEA candidates cannot be found.

Students from these countries pay more than four times the fees of up to £3,000 that UK and EEA students will be charged later this year - an average of £13,000 in pre-clinical years and £23,000 in clinical years.

The British Medical Association and the CHMS (Council of Heads of Medical Schools), have separately written to the government demanding a rethink on the sudden change in visa rules for overseas doctors. It has left thousands of doctors facing an uncertain future.

Both are concerned about the potential longer-term financial impact if the change dissuades overseas students from studying in the UK.


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Saturday, 27 May 2006 08:43
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
COURSE FOR 'CLEANLINESS CHAMPIONS' UNDER THREAT
The training course "cleanliness champions", that the Scottish Executive set up in order to combat infections such as MRSA in hospitals, it is now under threat because nurses do not have the time to complete the required training.

The initiative was launched four years ago, with a pledge to train 3,500 nurses with extra skills to fight hospital-acquired infections.

The course can be done online, which takes about 20 hours. But extra time is required for work-based elements, so that the training can be placed in context.

But NHS Education for Scotland (NES), which developed the programme, acknowledged that in some cases, nurses were having problems finding the time to complete it.

Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, said it was "extremely concerned" about nurses not being given the time to do the training.

She said: "From a patient safety point of view, it is very worrying.

"How would a patient feel if they realised the person looking after them had not been able to do all the training available because of a lack of time?

"When cuts start to be made, such as reducing time for training, which is when accidents can happen.

"That is when everything slips and we are not looking after patients as well as we should”.

Maggie White, the deputy director of the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland, said the college strongly supported the cleanliness champions’ scheme.

But she added: "However, progress so far has been disappointingly slow in some parts of the country.

"This will only improve if the barriers to staff joining the scheme are dealt with.

"They need to be supported with the time and staff cover that is necessary to access and complete the course."

Last year, the Executive made the initiative mandatory for all charge nurse grades. A spokeswoman said work was continuing to achieve this.

She said: "We recognise that completion of the training programme requires significant staff time and commitment.

"We recently provided over £230,000 in extra funding to help boards improve completion rates".

The spokeswoman added: "Over the last eight months, there has been a rapid increase in the uptake and completion of the cleanliness champions training programme.

"We are on course to reach the target of 3,500 champions later this year”.


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Thursday, 25 May 2006 11:56
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
ABORTION RATE SPARKS SEX EDUCATION FEARS
Abortion rates among under-16s in Scotland have reached record levels, prompting concerns over sex education and parenting.

The latest figures show 341 terminations were carried out on under-16s last year, up from 309 in 2004. Abortions on women and girls under 20 also rose by 86 to 3,304.

The total number of abortions in Scotland for all ages increased to 12,603 from 12,461 the previous year.

The figures have raised fears that the Executive’s Respect and responsibility strategy – launched last January as the first nationwide strategy on sexual health – is so far failing to have an effect.

NHS Tayside had the highest abortion rate at 16.4 per 1,000, followed by NHS Lothian at 14.1.

The highest rate was among those aged 16 to 24, with about 23 abortions per 1,000, but most concern was raised by the record number of girls having abortions below the legal age of consent.

Tim Street, the chief executive of FPA Scotland (Family Planning Association), said the rise in under-16 abortions was "quite a big jump".

"However much as a society we want under-16s not to have sex, some are going to and continue to do so.

"We need to work on education to change their behaviour and the thinking around sex and the consequences of having sex at a young age, for young men as well as women.

"As a society we are allowing sexual imagery to be used out of context all the time to promote products, to promote events.

"We have created a sexualised environment and then expect young people to ignore it and say: 'I will be good'."

Mr Street added: "I would like to see the Executive put as much effort into providing consistently high-quality sex education for young people, in and out of school, as they have put into improving clinical services."

Dr Nanette Milne, the Scottish Conservative health spokeswoman, said yesterday: "These figures are sadly the inevitable consequence of the increase in teenage pregnancies.

"Particularly worrying are the number of abortions - and therefore sexual activity - among under-16s."

The SNP health spokeswoman, Shona Robison, said: "These figures are clearly worrying and highlight the importance of raising awareness among Scotland's youngsters."


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Monday, 22 May 2006 10:07
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
WEST COUNTRY NURSING CUTBACKS ‘THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG’
The future health care of the elderly in the rural West County could be hit by the slashing of district nurse training places at Plymouth University, it has emerged.

The Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association said that the decision not to run district nurse courses in the next academic year will hit future services to the high percentage of elderly people in Devon and Cornwall, already one of the UK’s more deprived regions.

Amicus/CPHVA research has revealed that the South West Peninsular Strategic Health Authority won’t pay for next year’s course places, although it is understood that many primary care trusts in the West Country have asked for them.

Currently, there are 23 district nurse students on the University of Plymouth course which ends this summer.

Amicus/CPHVA believes that the Plymouth cutback is “the tip of the iceberg” and that district nurse courses are being either stopped or severely pruned by other universities and colleges across the UK.

Amicus/CPHVA director, Karen Reay said: “The decision by the strategic health authority is a disgrace and we will be campaigning for the funding for next year to be restored.

“In rural areas, the majority of the work that district nurses do on a daily basis is with the elderly. There is no doubt that this failure to invest in the next generation of district nurses will have an adverse affect on the services to the elderly in this predominately rural region.

“This should not be happening at a time of record investment in the NHS and we would urge local people to write to their MP to alert them of the situation.”


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Monday, 22 May 2006 10:01
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
SCHOOLS’ JUNK FOOD CLAMPDOWN WELCOMED
The government’s clamp down on junk food in schools from September has been welcomed by the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association.

School dinners and vending machines in England will be free from chocolate, crisps, fizzy drinks and "low-quality" meat from the autumn – and the CPHVA says this vindicates its five years of campaigning on this issue.

But the association believe that the spending on the food component of school meals needs to be boosted to provide the proper nutritional balance.

The target of spending a minimum of 50p per head on food for primary schools and 60p for secondary schools is “no way enough”, considering that the average school meal costs parents £1.40p.

The CPHVA Professional Officer for School Health and Public Health, Ros Godson said: “There is no way that 50p per head is adequate to ensure a nutritious meal, but it is an improvement on the previous amount of 41p.’

“We are delighted that, at last, there are to be nutritional standards for food offered to children and young people in school. This will improve their current health and begin to bear down on the causes of obesity, cancer and coronary heart disease in the future.

“This programme must be delivered within the context of on-going health promotion and education within the National Healthy Schools Programme. School nurses are already involved with public health in schools and should be able to lead on this.

“But unfortunately, in many areas, there are simply nowhere near enough of them, and recently posts are not being filled because of the NHS financial crisis.”


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Sunday, 21 May 2006 10:31
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
HEARING TESTS 'KEY FOR LANGUAGE'
A study by Southampton researchers claim that detecting hearing impairment in babies early can improve their language ability later life.

The researchers studied 120 children aged eight with permanent hearing impairment, half of whom were diagnosed in screening tests.

Those who did not have their impairment confirmed before they were nine months old scored worse in language skills tests than those who had.

The study also concluded that a hearing impaired child's speech was not greatly benefited by early detection.

One in 750 children are born in the UK with moderate, severe or profound bilateral permanent hearing impairment.

Reader in child health at Southampton University Dr Colin Kennedy said: "Our study extends findings from previous studies in the relationship between early identification of hearing impairment and later outcomes”.

He said that until now it had not been certain whether universal screening of newborn babies for hearing impairment had any effect on the child's later verbal abilities.

He added "Screening and early confirmation of permanent childhood hearing impairment clearly do have clinically important benefits to the language abilities of children at primary school age”.

Gwen Carr, director of UK services for the National Deaf Children's Society, said she welcomed the research, which backs earlier studies showing the longer-term benefits of early screening.

"Before screening was introduced, late identification of deafness caused many problems for children and their families - often with long-term consequences.

"We know from our work supporting families, how frustrating it was for them not being sure why their child was struggling to develop speech and how upsetting it was watching their child become frustrated at not being able to communicate.

"For the child, late identification has frequently led to a life of under-achievement, both socially and educationally”.


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Friday, 19 May 2006 11:47
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
SCHOOLS TO BANISH JUNK FOOD
The government has announced that junk foods such as chocolate, crisps, fizzy drinks and “low-quality” meat are to be removed from school dinners from the autumn.

Education secretary Alan Johnson has published nutrition guidelines in a bid to “undo decades of neglect” and improve pupils’ health.

The guidelines are based on recommendations by the School Meal Review Panel and follow a campaign by chef Jamie Oliver to improve the quality of school meals.

From September, caterers will ensure “high quality meat, poultry or oily fish is available on a regular basis”. Pupils will get “a minimum” of two portions of fruit and vegetables with every meal, while deep fried food will be limited to two portions a week.

Mr Johnson said: "These new standards will start to undo decades of neglect and ensure that healthy eating is the norm in every school.

"The health of our young people is not an area for compromise.

"Providing pupils with a healthy balanced meal that will give them the energy, vitamins and minerals they need to learn and play is essential, but we will go further, helping schools to teach every pupil skills in diet, nutrition, practical food preparation and cooking to ensure they make the right choices throughout life."

Kevin McKay, the chairman of the Local Authority Caterers Association, told BBC Radio Five Live what the guidelines would mean in practice.

"Certain things like fried products will be down to twice a week and certain other elements are being banned from vending machines; confectionary, snack sales, those areas," he said.

"And then what we're expecting is to have some nutrient-based standards; a meal will have to meet certain regulations as far as the nutrients, so we're talking levels of iron, calcium and fat levels."

Meanwhile, a leading health expert has labelled the packed lunches parents prepare for their children a “nutritional disaster”.

Dr Helen Crawley, a nutritionist and senior lecturer at Kingston University in South-West London, warned that the government’s plans to improve children’s diets would fail unless lunchboxes became healthier.

Dr Crawley said that parents were packing lunchboxes with crisps and chocolates because they were scared of disappointing their children.

She pointed to a recent report which showed packed lunches contained double the recommended intake of saturated fat and sugar and up to half the recommended salt intake. Almost half of those surveyed had no fruit or vegetables.

"Most packed lunches are a nutritional disaster. However bad the school meals were, packed lunches are worse," she told a conference in London staged by the charity Heads, Teachers and Industry.


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Friday, 19 May 2006 10:36
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
SAFE SEX MESSAGES IN SCHOOLS DON’T CHANGE BEHAVIOUR, STUDY FINDS
Current efforts to combat sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy in schools do not change sexual risk behaviour, a study has suggested.

Most recent efforts to prevent sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy in adolescents have been school based projects that promoted either condoms or abstinence.

Studies have produced mixed results, with only some interventions delaying the onset of sexual activity, increasing condom use, or decreasing unplanned pregnancy.

Nearly 11,000 students at 40 public high schools in Mexico participated in this study to assess the effects of an HIV prevention programme that promoted condom use and emergency contraception.

Fifteen schools received the HIV prevention course that promoted condom use. Another 15 schools received the same course plus a module on emergency contraception, and ten schools acted as controls and continued with the existing sex education course.

Students were surveyed at the start of the study and again at four months and 16 months.

Neither strategy had any affect on reported condom use or sexual behaviour. However, students who received emergency contraception education also reported increased use of emergency contraception.

Knowledge of HIV improved in both intervention groups, and knowledge of emergency contraception improved in students who received the additional module.

Dilys Walker of Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health said: “Our study adds to the growing body of evidence that current HIV prevention efforts based in school do not alter sexual risk behaviour, and suggests that current interventions educate effectively but may not change sexual risk behaviour.”

The study results also suggest that there is no risk in combining condom promotion messages with emergency contraception education.

“New strategies are urgently needed to combat HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy among adolescents,” he added.


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Friday, 19 May 2006 10:15
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
DOCTORS TO STAMP OUT BULLYING
A report out today reveals that 1 in 4 NHS staff have been bullied and harassed by patients and their relatives and nearly 1 in 7 report similar experiences from other members of staff.

The report, Bullying and harassment of doctors in the workplace, is the basis for a conference being held today at BMA House. Key topics up for debate include bullying in medicine and the psychology of bullying.

Bullying and harassment is on the increase in the health service. This could be because staff are reporting more incidents following a realisation that they do not have to tolerate this treatment, says the report.

Workplace bullying and harassment occurs across the medical workforce from medical students, to junior doctors to consultants and GPs. However, medical students and doctors in training say they are often subjected to bullying as part of an ‘initiation rite’ into medicine. In a recent British Medical Association survey of medical students 1 in 4 respondents said they had been bullied by other doctors, while 16 per cent reported being bullied by nurses.

Dr Sam Everington, Deputy Chairman of the BMA, said today: “The cycle of bullying in medicine has to stop. It’s not good enough for a senior doctor to think that he or she had a hard time and was humiliated as medical student so it’s justified for them to dole out the same treatment.

He added: “It’s not just students and juniors who are bullied. Consultants can be bullied by their peers and by managers. The highly pressurised target ethos in the health service only adds to the survival of the fittest culture where bullying is often seen as a way of motivating staff.”

It has been estimated that that workplace bullying affects up to 50 per cent of the UK workforce at some time in their working lives and costs employers 80 million lost working days and up to £2 million in lost revenue each year.

Dr Everington said: “Turning the tide of bullying in the NHS will not only be good for staff but also employers because stressed health professionals end up taking more time of work and will be more likely to leave the health service. It makes economic sense to tackle this problem.”

Staff grade and associate specialist doctors and those from overseas are particularly vulnerable to workplace bullying and harassment. The most common reported forms of bullying and harassment behaviour include attempts to belittle and undermine work, withholding necessary information, freezing out and removing areas of responsibility without consultation and setting impossible deadlines.

The BMA report has described several solutions, these include:

· Every NHS organisation, including all deaneries and those involved in training, should have a policy for dealing with bullying and harassment at work. This should also include the provision of support and relevant contacts who can be approached to deal with the situation appropriately.

· Guidance aimed at the specific issues facing students may prevent bullying and harassment at medical school. The BMA’s Medical Students Committee is currently developing such guidance.

· Training for staff must be specific and appropriate and updated regularly.

· Appropriate personal development and training must be invested in senior medical staff to enable them to take on managerial roles and express their authority tactfully.

· If the problem of bullying and harassment in the workplace is to be successfully tackled, support must be provided for all involved parties. This includes confidential, non-judgemental support for the victim and also remedial support for those who are responsible for the bullying. Furthermore, third parties who are aware of the bullying and harassment should feel empowered to challenge the situation or report it to an appropriate manager or colleague.


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