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Petition launched on district nursing shortage

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An online petition has been launched calling on the government to recruit more district nurses.

Those behind the new petition, which was started last week, warned that the district nursing service was at “breaking point”.

“There has been large cuts to the district nursing service, senior nursing sisters who require the specialist practitioner degree have been reduced in numbers and in high demand with many jobs advertised for months waiting to be filled,” they said.

The petition’s launch was sparked by previous predictions from the Royal College of Nursing that district nurses will be “extinct” by 2025 based on current workforce trends.

The RCN has quoted statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre showing a 47% drop in district nurses from 12, 620 to 6,656 over the decade between 2003 and 2013.

The college has previously called on the government to increase the community workforce by 10,000 to “plug the growing gap”.

It said the new posts needed to be district nurses in order to meet the demands of an ageing population, needing care at home with long term conditions.

The petition has already attracted well over 1,500 signatures.

The government will provide a written response if it reaches 10,000 signatures and it will be considered for debate by MPs if it gets 100,000 over the next six months.

Nursing Times revealed in March that the growth in the number of district nurses in training was slowing down.

Figures from the Queen’s Nursing Institute showed that while the number of district nurse students due to qualify in specialist practice programmes had increased from 382 in the summer of 2014 to 479 in the summer of 2015, the growth of new entrants to courses had slowed down from 32.6% in 2014-15 to 14.3% predicted for 2015-16.

At the time, QNI chief executive Dr Crystal Oldman warned that the extent to which new entrants were increasing year-on-year appeared to be “tailing off”.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • michael stone

    It is [almost certainly] necessary to increase the number of 'district nurses' if the thrust of contemporary policy is to try and provide more healthcare in the community, to reduce the number of patients (especially elderly patients) admitted to hospital, and to speed up where appropriate and possible the discharge of patients (again, usually elderly) from hospitals. Surely making sure there are sufficient district nurses, has to be a very high priority ?!

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