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Wales doubles DN training places

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A change in commissioning policy means the number of district nurse training places in Wales will more than double this year.

The Welsh Assembly announced last week that it had commissioned a mixture of full-time courses and modules for community nurses in 2007–2008.

As a result, the number of district nurse training places is set to increase in September from 45 to 98, of which 28 will be full-time degrees and 70 module places.

Community psychiatric places will also rise from 13 to 26, paediatric places from two to nine, school nurses from 22 to 24, and midwives from 90 to 95. However, there are no increases in health visitor or learning disabilities places.

The assembly has also announced that there will be 14 more pre-registration training places, taking the total for next year to 1,093, and an extra 180 return-to-practice courses over the next three years.

The figures represent a U-turn on cuts in community nurse training places last year, which saw district nurse training places fall by eight places and CPNs by seven.

Ministers said the extra staff would be needed to meet ‘One Wales’ policy commitments, which include providing more community care and one family nurse per secondary school.

Health minister for Wales Edwina Hart said: ‘A mixture of full-time courses and modules will give us the flexibility to plan effectively for the workforce needed for the future.’

The RCN welcomed the announcement, saying the loss of skilled community nurses was becoming ‘increasingly problematic’ as patients with complex needs were discharged earlier into the community.

Since 1999 the number of whole-time equivalent community nursing posts has been reduced by 10.5%, according to the college.

Tina Donnelly, director of RCN Wales, said: ‘We are pleased the minister has listened to our views. Some district nurses in Wales are now struggling with a caseload of over 300 patients, which
is unacceptable.’

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