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NHS news in brief

Our weekly round-up of NHS and healthcare stories.

RCN firm on euthanasia debate

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will not change its policy on euthanasia, it has affirmed, after a euthanasia debate held at the RCN's annual meeting in Harrogate left nurses divided over the issue. Some argued that the current law ìcauses unnecessary sufferingî, while others reasoned that the real problem was poor access to good quality care. A recent RCN poll found that 70 per cent of nurses do not think that euthanasia should be legal.

Parties to tackle violence

The three main political parties have all pledged to tackle the rising level of violence against nurses if they are elected to power. The parties have promised to tackle the issue by enforcing tougher penalties on people who attack NHS staff. Recent figures suggest that 116,000 nurses were attacked last year, with 64 per cent of nurses attending the meeting admitting they had been attacked while at work.

Nursing recruitment needs to double

The number of newly-recruited nurses will need to double to 66,000 by 2014 in order to tackle a massive decrease in nursing numbers, a Royal College of Nursing report has revealed. The report, UK Nursing Labour Market Commentary 2004/5 found that approximately 50,000 UK trained nurses left the sector or retired in the past year, but only 20,000 new nurses have been recruited from the UK and a further 12,000 recruited from abroad. The number of nurses retiring each year is also expected to increase from 15,000 last year to 25,000 in 2014.

Nurses fear salesperson roles

Nurses could find themselves under the spotlight when new patient choice plans laid down by the government kick in from December 2005. All patients requiring elective surgery will be offered the choice of between four or five hospitals, however some worry that nurses may feel obliged to recommend certain hospitals to patients. ìIf patients are to become healthcare consumers, does that mean that nurses will be perceived as salespeople?î asked Dr Beverly Malone, the Royal College of Nursing's general secretary.

Government launches heroin scheme

More heroin addicts will be able to get the drug free on the NHS under a new government pilot scheme, to be launched in June, to increase the number of long-term addicts given injectable heroin if they fail to respond to other treatments. ìThere may be an increase in the numbers receiving injectable heroin, but we are talking about hundreds not thousands,î said a spokesperson from the Treatment Agency. Approximately 450 heroin addicts currently receive the drug on prescription.

30th September 2008

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