The RCN has called upon the government to urgently invest in training a new generation of district nurses to make good on its promise to boost community healthcare. It comes as Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to invest £3.5bn in improving care in the home. But Dame Donna Kinnair, acting chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, responded: ‘Investing in an expert district nursing workforce and community services must be the priority to keep patients out of hospital.’
Prime Minister Theresa May announced the extra money, which will go towards funding 24/7 community-based rapid response teams made of doctors, nurses and physiotherapists to provide care at home, during a visit to a London Health Centre.
‘Many patients would be much better off being cared for in the community,’ said Mrs May. ‘And the longer a patient stays in hospital the more it costs the NHS and the more pressure is put on its hardworking staff. This needs to change.’
Dame Donna welcomed the news, saying that it would both save the NHS money and improve quality of life for patients, but added: ‘This announcement begs the question who will operate these bespoke support networks, dedicated healthcare for care residents and rapid response teams.
‘The number of district nurses employed by the NHS, the backbone of community health services, has almost halved since 2010, and the number of community nursing staff overall has dropped by 15%. In addition, cuts to training budgets have prevented nurses from joining the community nursing workforce, prompting further staff shortages.’