Monday, 23 August 2010

A Health Warning

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has been the body which controls who can be employed in our healthcare system. It's policy is that new recruits must have worked at least 450 hours in the last three years or go to a refresher course. So, as long as they worked say 15 hours a week for 10 weeks, then they could return to work without requiring to spend money on updating their skills.

The NMC has now stopped administering the tests after being told it could be sued by the EC for breaking EU law on "freedom of movement' for workers from the Continent and now all they will need is a diploma from their country showing they are qualified.

In the past 5 years more than 40,000 nurses from the EU - including former Soviet Bloc countries such as Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia - applied to work in Britain but just 270 completed the course, deterred by its cost and difficulty.

The changes will make the system almost identical to that in place for GPs coming from European countries, which allows them to cover out-of-hours shifts without tests on their skills or language abilities. Already around 2,000 nurses and midwives from the EU try to come to Britain to work every year.

With a little tuition and Photoshop, I'm sure I could produce quite a nifty looking Diploma - not that I'm suggesting any EU healthcare worker would ever consider such an action. But what about the human rights of the patients who pay into a system within which they expect to be treated by properly qualified personnel who can speak English well enough to understand their problems? Surely the patient has a right to expect that the NHS has fully checked out every employee. If an unqualified person slips through, which they will do, who is legally responsible - the local NHS authority or the EU? It will take a few deaths of course before we know the answers. Just ensure yours won't be one of them. Do we have a right to refuse to be treated by someone we consider doesn't have the language skills for two-way verbal understanding?

The House of Commons' Health Committee plans to investigate. Time they got on with it and called a halt to the continuing destruction of our healthcare system.


William said...

Unacceptable. Apart from the healthcare issues that you highlight, it also debases our own education system. Why bother going through a rigorous training system when you can just pop over to Lithuania and pick up a certificate? We can't possibly know what standard that certificate implies but we're to accept it as having equal value as our own educational qualifications?

I sometimes think we're run by people who deliberately want to destroy every single institution in this country.

subrosa said...

I sometimes think that too William. This really ought to be investigated immediately as it's sure to be putting lives at risk.

Clarinda said...

According to the news last week, Scotland is continuing to produce many more newly registered nurses than we have allocated money to employ. This lack of employment opportunity does not nescessarily mean there isn't a clinical need for better staffing of our Scottish NHS institutions as most hospitals 'function' on a minimal staff level - dangerous in its own way without the added complication of European Working Hour Directives. A large number of our nurses are employed on a temporary and/or part-time basis and we still lose dozens of some of our very best to the southern hemisphere.

Subrosa - although your prediction of potential deaths may be valid may I suggest outstripping that may be a gross increase in 'near misses' caused by disorientation and unforced error as well as potential incompetence. By not requiring a period of establishing professional and personal competence leading to a UK nursing registration equivalent, we may have to rely on after the event court cases to decide on duty and competence of care. It would be interesting to know where the 270 nurses from the EU were educated.

It is extremely worrying to have the NHS employers hands tied denying them the need to establish a potential employee's competence!
However I think I'm correct in that nurses from outside the EU will still have to establish their competency, including language, to obtain registration to practice here. That will please the Canadians, Australians, Americans and New Zealanders no end! We ought to follow the exemplary lead of Australia in the manner they insist to determine clinical professional competence etc. prior to seeking employment over there.

Keep healthy!

Demetrius said...

I've always fancied being a bit of a brain surgeon. Now I've just printed my Degree and Diploma off my computer, allegedly from the University of Atlantis, all I need to do is find my hammer and chisel.

Apogee said...

Hi SR. I think Clarinda pretty much stated the case .
I think if we have doubts regarding the abilities or otherwise of medical personnel we can refuse to be treated by them, but the down side is that we may then be refused treatment. But it is our life on the line.
We have the same problem with the EU and their claim to be competent to govern us. We know the "abilities" of our own politicians but with the EU, we have no knowledge of abilities or lack of, and we don't even have a say in their employment. I assume that an application from an EU person with unknown unchecked qualifications will get precedence over a Commonwealth or American person with complete and checked qualifications simply because they are from the EU. This would have to be one of the very few occasions of getting a job when one of the qualifications, in this case being able to communicate efficiently in the language of the country could be completely missing and for one group is not required.
Is this not discrimination against fully qualified personnel who have proved their abilities.This would seem to be legally binding discrimination, which we are all supposed to be against?
Bit like a French bus driver getting a job on the buses in Edinburgh when he has only ever driven on the right hand side? could be interesting results.

Anonymous said...

Again, it's the same situation as with the MoD. Its more cost effective for the National Horror Service to pay to gag than to compensate. The NHS will fight back until it's no longer cost effective to do so.

subrosa said...

As always Clarinda, you state your case eloquently. Isn't it ridiculous non-EU nurses will continue to be tested?

I've just read about the Australian system. Time for that to be given a wider audience.

You keep healthy too. I'm doing fine except these gardening implements I use have a fondness for taking chunks out of me or hitting me where it really does hurt. You'd think manufacturers would be more attentive in design wouldn't you.

subrosa said...

Demetrius, it has been known hasn't it? Wasn't so long ago a chap had been 'practising' for some time until he was discovered on a technicality.

subrosa said...

Interesting results yes Apogee and I don't think we'll have to wait too long before they start to trickle into the public eye.

subrosa said...

Isn't the NHS a bottomless pit vc? When would it be no longer cost effective to fight back? I can't see that day in the offing.

Anonymous said...

Bottomless pit? Given half the chance it would swallow all of GDP and still cry out for more. When would it not be cost effective to fight back? When legal costs outstrip settlement costs. Somewhere I have a copy of a report on National Horror Service handing of persistent complainers. Email me if you want me to look look it out.

As you know I've been banging on about being able to save the NHS 20% in no time without culling any jobs or capability in return for competent healthcare. Well, I'm still waiting on them taking up that offer, the latest having been made in JW's blog entitled "Drugs"

subrosa said...

Thanks for the link vc. I have read that post of John's. If you've time I'd appreciate a copy of the report.

Why is it that so many people think our NHS is so wonderful? Is it because they've never experienced another country's healthcare system? There are areas of the NHS which are top notch but the daily running of hospitals seem to me, who has fortunately only limited experience, to be poorly managed where staffing levels and care is concerned. Buzzers not answered, people waiting for assistance for ages, no help with eating if someone is unable to help themselves.

The list is one of common complaints but the care one troubled me. Some people are frightened because they're ill and don't know what's wrong or going on. I've yet to ever see a nurse sit down and talk to anyone. That used to happen years ago, they provided that five minutes of comfort.

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