Within the QNI networks, there has for some time been a growing level of concern about the capacity and organisation of the community nursing workforce to meet the needs of the changing profile of our population.
Last week at the Chief Nursing Officer for England’s summit, it was encouraging to hear Jeremy Hunt state that there is a need to focus on this area of the nursing workforce and invest in its development.
This is a timely comment from the secretary of state, given the findings of the latest King’s Fund report on the impact of the financial pressures on patients within the NHS found here.
The King’s Fund selected four areas within NHS services for their report, including the district nursing service. The authors concluded that, ‘Our findings create a fundamental challenge to the direction of travel set out in the NHS five year forward view and the implementation of new models of care. Acute services such as hip replacement and neonatal care have been relatively protected from financial pressures so far, while some community-based and public health services like GUM and district nursing have been cut significantly. This suggests the NHS is moving further away from its goal of strengthening community-based services and focusing on prevention, rather than making progress towards it.’
Compare this with the Department of Health’s ambition to support more care to be delivered in the community and in people’s homes. Meeting the challenge locally of ensuring the right nurse with the right skills delivers care at the right time and in the right place becomes even more poignant.
It is therefore encouraging that for the last 15 months, as part of the National Quality Board’s ‘safe, sustainable staffing’ programme, NHS Improvement has been working on a new resource for the district nursing service. Supported by an evidence review, the improvement resource focuses on planning and delivering a service with the right profile of nurses available to meet the needs of patients being cared for in the community, their families and carers.
The improvement resource has now been released for public engagement, with the opportunity to feedback your views via a survey here.
Your views will be very welcome and will ensure that the final publication is both relevant and practical.
Crystal Oldman is chief executive of the Queen’s Nursing Institute