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The Friday Five (16/02/24)

Looking for the latest news items in social care, healthcare, education, or recovery and criminal justice? Well, we’ve got you covered. 

It’s time for another edition of The Friday Five where we collate the latest news items from across the UK and put them into one quick and easy-to-read article. Without further ado, then, here we go.

1. Long Winter A&E Waits

This winter, England’s National Health Service (NHS) faced a severe increase in patient wait times, with the number of individuals waiting over 12 hours for a hospital ward bed after A&E admission soaring to 19 times higher than pre-pandemic levels. Nearly 100,000 patients experienced such delays in December and January, a stark rise from just over 5,000 in 2019-20. 

The King’s Fund highlighted concerns that these long wait times are becoming normalised, despite the implementation of measures such as 5,000 extra hospital beds and 10,000 virtual beds intended to alleviate the strain. NHS England’s medical director described this winter as one of the busiest ever, with flu cases exacerbating the pressure on services.

2. Measles Cases Increasing

England is experiencing measles outbreaks across multiple regions, with 166 cases reported in the last month, including 56 in the past week. The West Midlands, particularly Birmingham, has seen about half of these cases, though numbers there are now stabilising. 

Health officials attribute the outbreaks to low MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine uptake in some areas, with hundreds of thousands of children unprotected and at risk. Doctor Vanessa Saliba of the UK Health Security Agency urges parents to vaccinate their children. 

Symptoms of measles include rash, fever, and coughing. Currently, only about 85% of children in England receive both MMR doses by age five, below the WHO’s target of 95%. Find out more about this story here.

3. New Local Authority Adult Social Care Statistics Published

Skills for Care has published a new report looking into statistics pertaining to the adult social care workforce in England (employed both directly and indirectly by local authorities). The report reveals several significant findings on adult social care, including the following: the average age of staff in local authorities is 47.6, notably older than those in the independent sector. 

Staff in local authorities also took an average of 10.7 sick days annually, exceeding the UK employment average by 5 days. Despite a nominal full-time equivalent annual pay increase for care workers to £23,900, reflecting a 9.6% rise from 2022, real-term wages for eight out of ten job roles have decreased when adjusted for inflation between 2016 and 2023.

4. School Phone Ban Guidance Issued

The UK government has unveiled a strategy to restrict mobile phone usage by pupils in English schools, allowing individual institutions to determine their approach. Methods may include collecting phones at the start of the day or ensuring they remain unused. 

This move aims to mitigate classroom disruptions, focus loss, and bullying exacerbated by phone usage. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan emphasised the devices’ potential to distract. 

While many schools already impose restrictions, the new policy seeks a more uniform approach, acknowledging some students may need access for emergencies, with parents able to reach their children through the school office.

5. UNISON Says Ambulance Culture Must Change

In a recent report by UNISON, the spotlight is on the urgent need for a transformation in the workplace culture within ambulance services. Highlighting concerns over long-standing issues such as bullying, harassment, and discrimination, the report calls for decisive action to address these systemic problems. 

Emphasising the crucial role of supportive environments for staff well-being and effective service delivery, UNISON underscores the necessity for robust measures to foster a healthier workplace atmosphere within the ambulance sector. Find out more here.

Interested in a Role?

If you’re interested in a role in healthcare, social care, education, or recovery and criminal justice, then you’ve come to the right place. Find out more by getting in touch with Seven Resourcing today or applying directly to one of our job listings. However you wish to get in touch, we look forward to hearing from you! 

Carry on reading