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Community nursing 'failing people'

The state of community nursing in the NHS in England is “lamentable”, the RCN has warned.

RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said the current situation is “failing people”.

Dr Carter told the BBC that the overall state of community nursing was “lamentable”, adding: “With this huge reduction in the numbers of district nurses, while at the same time the massive growth in the population and more and more people with complex conditions, I have to say unfortunately we really are failing people who deserve so much more.”

Figures show that the number of district nurses has fallen by more than 40% in the last decade.

In 2002, there were 12,802 community nurses working in the health service but by 2012 the figure had fallen to 7,457, according to figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre which were released in March.

Dr Carter said: “Care closer to home is not only what patients want, it is what UK health services need to do to avoid costly, lengthy and unnecessary hospital stays.

“However, the number of district nurses has fallen by an astonishing 42% over the last decade. Only five district nurses were trained in London last year. This means that district nurses simply won’t be able to keep on giving the increasingly complex care required to meet the rise in demand.

“Sadly, if community services are not adequately resourced, many older people may face being admitted or readmitted to hospital as an emergency.”

Michael Scott, chairman of the NHS Confederation’s Community Health Services Forum, said: “Across England, patients are clear that they want more and better care provided in their local communities and in their own homes.

“Increased investment in community-based health services will not only help make this a reality, but will also help prevent ill-health and enable early intervention, reducing pressure on other parts of the health system.

“If we get community health care right, patients may not need to attend A&E or be admitted to an acute hospital in the first place.”

 

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Readers' comments (10)

  • michael stone

    I still think it is a great pity that Carter/RCN was so 'quiet and reserved' during the development/passage of the NHS Bill - now Carter/RCN is shouting about the need for more nurses, while the BMA is shouting about the need for more doctors, GPs are shouting about the need for more GPs, etc.

    Although if patients are to be kept out of hospital, more resources in the community seems a pretty-obvious requirement, and I'm still unsure exactly how that is being met.

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  • DH Agent - as if ! | 24-May-2013 2:19 pm

    why don't you ask mr carter? his contact details are on the RCN webpage

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  • Its not so much what we need more of its what we need to loose and that is the criminally incompetent management that blunder about with mad schemes that fail at great expense but are just swept under the carpet. Even if a health secretary came up with THE solution to the NHS it would fail in the hands of NHS managers. Its high time they were brought to book.

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  • It seems as though community nurses are becoming a rarity and their services somewhat of a luxury!

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  • Its not so much what we need more of its what we need to loose and that is the criminally incompetent management that blunder about with mad schemes that fail at great expense but are just swept under the carpet. Even if a health secretary came up with THE solution to the NHS it would fail in the hands of NHS managers. Its high time they were brought to book.

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  • I work as a CPN in Assertive Outreach. My work is in a rural setting. Any model you care to look at will tell you that I should care co ordinate no more that 6-8 service users. If I was to work in an urban setting it would be 10 -12. recently I was told I would be care coordinating at least 17 probably more. In effect doing the work of at best 2 CPN's in reality 3. As for the comments re managers if they worked in industry they would've been voted out of a job long ago by the shareholders. Then again IF the Tories get in power at the next election that may be the case in a few years when the NHS is privatised and the shareholders have their say

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  • The term "lamentable" used by Peter Carter to describe the state of community nursing to the BBC was undoubtedly a poorly chosen description. The numbers of nurses working in the community particularly those with a District Nursing qualification many be lamentable but the care is mostly second to none. They are working long hours - much longer than they are paid to with a dedication seldom seen elsewhere yet the BBC has been given the impression that it is not a good service- please ensure the descriptions are not misleading! Thank you.

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  • Anonymous | 27-May-2013 9:10 pm

    in view of the media track record one can imagine the story which could be made out of that to be circulated and fed to the gullible public whose criticisms, based on this misguided information, will ensue.

    well done and thank you to those who continue to provide an excellent, and excellent value, service. we obviously need far more of you and with much improved working conditions so that you have the time you need for your patients for which you must be justly remunerated.

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  • michael stone

    Goverment has today, unless I misheard the news, said we need more GPs and more community nurses (but whether they mean registered nurses, or HCAs, I'm not so sure).

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  • i work in the community and we have worked extremely hard and we still do to keep patients out of hospital.
    thi sculture of it something goes wrong let's blame it on someone else is very prominent in the NHS and unfortunately the government is using that argument .

    STOPPPPPPPPPPP AND PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEE
    address the problem where it is occuring
    if it is in A+E then address i there, do not throw the problem like a tennis ball, it does not help anyone certainly not the patients.
    Too many non-clinicians are sitting at excutive and non-executive level and making decisions which do not relate at all to improving the NHS.
    REMEMBER THERE IS NO QUICK FIX IN THE NHS. IT NEEDS WELL PLANNED LONG TERM BENEFIT.

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