HSJ’s roundup of the day’s must read stories and debate
Today’s must know: Home secretary lifts controversial controls on nurse immigration
Today’s explainer: “Planning together”: Does Simon Stevens really mean it?
A sigh of relief
Following lobbying from the NHS, home secretary Theresa May on Thursday asked the Migration Advisory Committee to include nursing on the UK’s shortage occupation list.
The move follows growing concern within the NHS that trusts will struggle to recruit non-EU nurses to fill vacant jobs ahead of winter.
NHS Employers had urged the Home Office to change the immigration rules, while last week Simon Stevens said the rules needed a “rethink” and the UK needed to “better join the dots” between immigration policy and the NHS.
Under the changes, non-EU nurse numbers will not be subject to immigration visa controls and those already working in the UK but earn less than £35,000 after six year will no longer be forced to leave the UK after April next year.
HSJ understands approximately 750 non-EU nurse visa applications were being rejected in recent months.
NHS trusts have turned to overseas recruitment to try and bolster their staffing levels due to the rising demand for nurses post-Francis inquiry.
Mid Staffs back in the headlines
Talking of the Francis inquiry, the Health and Safety Executive has said it will bring criminal charges against the former Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust over the deaths of four patients.
The cases, which date from 2005 to 2014, have been investigated by the HSE after the prime minister demanded new investigations following the publication of Sir Robert Francis’ landmark report in 2013.
Sir Robert heavily criticised the HSE for its failure to investigate deaths at the hospital, saying the executive had the “appearance of looking for reasons for not taking action”.
Mid Staffs exists only as a legal entity and is likely to face significant financial penalties, which will have to be funded by the taxpayer if it is convicted.
Understanding what Simon said
Mr Stevens’ speech at the King’s Fund earlier this week was described by Professor Chris Ham as “his most important since he returned to the NHS”.
The NHS England chief executive delivered a volley of major policy assertions and hints, sending a clear message that he remains in charge of national decisions and will reshape and reinterpret the rules as necessary.
Mr Stevens also revealed an intention to use the fast approaching national planning round to kick off a comprehensive replumbing of the health service.
His comments ramp up interest and energy ahead of what will be an important step towards implementing his vision. HSJ’s Dave West explains what this could mean for the NHS.