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District nurses may become 'extinct'

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Urgent investment is required for district nurses in order to prevent their ‘extinction' in 2025, say the RCN.

In the last 10 years there has been a 47 per cent reduction in the number of qualified district nursing staff.

Research from the National Nursing Research Unit, commissioned by the RCN, revealed the shortage of district nurses is expected to get worse, with over a third of the current workforce coming to retirement age.

The RCN is calling on the Government to fulfil its commitment to increase the community nursing workforce by 10,000.

In order to deal with the rising number of frail, elderly patients the RCN recommends that these extra posts are employed as district nurses.

More than eight out of 10 community nurses say they are working additional hours and three-quarters have said that they have to leave unnecessary activities unfinished due to lack of time and four in 10 said they would leave the job if they could.

A nurse told the RCN: ‘It is a privilege to work in the community and in people's homes. If I was given more time to do my job I would love it but at times I can't help but feel I have been unable to provide the care I feel I want to give.

This frustrates and saddens me. The need to keep patients out of hospital is being highlighted at the moment but no extra help is being given to front line staff.'

The RCN is also publishing a new range of reports outlining the nursing experience of integrated care in the UK and lessons from the model of integration in the United States. The report follows a survey by the QNI, which also raised concerns about the morale and staffing of district nursing teams.

The RCN is also calling for all trainee nurses to undertake a mandatory placement in the community in order to meet future demands.

The full report can be found here: www.rcn.org.uk

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