District nurse leaders are calling on the main political parties to promise urgent investment in community services, including more staff and better training.
The Queen’s Nursing Institute is to write to the leaders of the three main parties highlighting the need to move more care into community settings, as a “matter of urgent public interest”.
“Home and community is where we live our lives, and where most of us would like to end our lives, with skilled and coordinated nursing care,” it said. “This shift will also help hard-pressed hospital colleagues.”
The charity is also encouraging its own Queen’s Nurses to lobby their local MPs about the issue.
“We urge all parties to debate these issues, and make manifesto pledges about them as a matter of urgent public interest”
It has drawn up a policy statement addressed to “all political parties” highlighting steps that are “needed urgently” to support the shift (see PDF, attached top-right).
These steps include investing in staff in order to “improve the quality and safety of care” provided in the home.
The QNI stated: “This requires training nurses and other health professionals differently, and retaining existing staff, to ensure that they can effectively meet the home care needs of patients, carers and their families.
“It also means reversing the decline in the number of district nurse, who lead community teams and give expert care,” it said.
In addition, the QNI said there needed to be a shift in “policy focus” from hospitals to the home, together with more care integrated around patient needs and community nurses equipped with new technology.
“We urge all parties to debate these issues, and make manifesto pledges about them as a matter of urgent public interest,” it stated.
The statement, signed by QNI chief executive Crystal Oldman and chair Kate Billingham, also highlighted the “key contribution of nurses in the long overdue shift of care into the community”.
A QNI spokesman said the charity planned to send copies of the policy statement to party leaders “in the next few days”.
It has already been distributed in person by Ms Oldman at the recent autumn party conferences held by Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.
“There are our three steps we think of as important to achieving improvement and strengthening of nursing in the home”
In addition, copies of the statement were distributed at the QNI’s annual conference in London last week, where Ms Billingham called on delegates to make their local MPs aware of the statement and ask them what they were doing to support the move of healthcare to the community.
Ms Billingham told delegates: “What you see in front of you are our three steps that we think of as important to achieving the goals and purpose of the QNI, which is the improvement and strengthening of nursing in the home.
“One is the shift in policy focus,” she said. “Not because we are in competition with hospitals but actually to help out our hard pressed colleagues in hospital. This requires a shift and a change in the way we fund and organise and see healthcare.
“The second one is about improving quality and safety of care in the home, ensuring that our nurses are trained sufficiently to work with individuals, families and carers,” she said.
“And the third one is about the future,” she added. “That we recognise if we want the community services for the people we serve we need to equip nurses in the community to enable them to care well for people in the home.
“What we’d like you to do is take them away and use them to lobby locally with MPs coming up to the election, of whatever party,” said Ms Bllingham.