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The Friday Five (12/01/24)

It’s a New Year, which means new healthcare, social care, education, and recovery and criminal justice news stories to get your eyes onto. 

We’ve taken five of the most noteworthy recent news items and collated them in an accessible and concise format. We know how precious your time is, so without further ado, here’s your Friday Five!

1. Domestic Care Workforce Plan Set Out By Government

The UK Government has announced a £75 million plan to develop the domestic care workforce, with over £50 million allocated for a new Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate and more than £20 million dedicated to social work and nursing apprenticeships. 

This initiative aims to enhance training and create clearer career paths in the care sector. Find out more about the news in our blog post, here!

2. Over 113,000 Appointments Cancelled Due to Junior Doctor Strikes

Junior doctors recently staged the longest industrial action in NHS history, and newly published data from NHS England shows that 113,779 appointments in total were cancelled because of the strikes, including over 9,000 elective surgeries. 

According to the NHS’ national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, recovering from the damage caused by the six days of strikes will take “weeks and months”. Junior doctors were striking for pay restoration (a 35% pay rise) to compensate for reductions in real-term income over the past decade and a half. 

3. The Centre for Social Justice Publishes New Report on Schools

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) recently published a new report titled, The Missing Link: Restoring the bond between schools and families, in which they found that just under one in five parents didn’t feel confident that their child’s needs were being met. 

The report also found that just under 40% of parents didn’t believe that the school communicated with them well enough. A significant 28% of parents agreed that, since the pandemic, they’ve believed that it’s not essential for children to attend school every day. 

The document made several recommendations, including the creation of a National Parental Participation Strategy, the roll out of attendance mentors nationwide, the introduction of a ‘Right to Sport’ in secondary schools, and a review into the efficacy of the fines system.

4. Over 150 Comprehensive Schools More Socially Selective than Grammar Schools

The Sutton Trust’s research reveals that England’s top comprehensive schools are highly socially selective, with a notable gap in Free School Meal (FSM) eligibility between these schools and their local areas. This gap, larger than the average comprehensive, suggests disadvantaged students are less likely to access top schools. 

The issue, worsening over time, is highlighted in the “Selective Comprehensives 2024” report by the National Foundation for Education Research. Key findings include a higher social selectivity in religious schools and smaller multi-academy trusts, and regional variations, with Northern England showing a larger FSM gap compared to London.

5. UK Government Initiates Consultation on New NHS Nurse Pay Scale

The UK government has launched a call for evidence to evaluate the potential of a new pay scale for NHS nurses. This initiative aims to understand if the current Agenda for Change contract is hindering nurses’ career progression. 

Health Minister Andrew Stephenson encourages stakeholders to share their expertise to assess the benefits and risks of a separate pay structure. The call, lasting 12 weeks, is a response to union concerns and seeks to enhance professional development and career opportunities for nurses in the NHS.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it! Your first Friday Five of 2024. We hope you found it informative and useful, and don’t forget to check back in next week for another breakdown of the latest news stories. Until then, have a great weekend!  

Carry on reading