This week, I was delighted to speak at two nursing events. The first was the Nursing Times ‘Directors of Nursing’ congress, where more than 70 chief nurses had gathered to network and share best practice. The second was the Best Practice in Nursing conference, attended by over 1000 nurses working in primary and community care.
There was a recurring theme at both conferences: the challenges facing the nursing workforce to meet the current demand for care, and the anticipated increase in the need for nurses in all settings.
The QNI campaigns for the right nurse with the right skills to be in place for the care of our communities. We were well informed about workforce issues by the survey of district nurses undertaken last year and, supported by the QNI’s annual district nurse educational audit, we have been able to provide evidence for an increase in appropriate leadership for the district nursing service.
Our district nurse education audit this year shows that the number of DNs qualifying in 2015 with the NMC recordable specialist practice qualification has increased significantly, with numbers close to doubling in the last two years. The full report will be published in November, and it is clear from the data that there has been a national response to strengthening the leadership of the district nursing service.
The work of the QNI this year has also focussed on nurses working in general practice, with the results of our survey of 3500 practice nurses due for publication soon. One theme will again be the workforce. With a large percentage of the current workforce due to retire by 2020, there is an urgent need to develop a clear workforce plan and to attract nurses into these roles.
At the Best Practice in Nursing conference, the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) launched the Primary Care Home initiative.
This model, supported by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, is an initiative based on a capitated budget, aiming to provide better coordinated local care in the community. The contribution of nurses will be a key challenge for Primary Care Home and the QNI has offered to work with NAPC to inform the nursing aspects of the initiative.
However services are configured locally, the development of a skilled nursing workforce to meet the needs of the communities we serve will always be a priority for the QNI.