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Care is ‘hampered’ by drop in numbers of district nurses

The QNI has reported a drop in those qualifying as District Nurse Specialist Practitioners (SPQ), with 6% fewer than last year

Experts at the QNI warn that that the direction of travel towards better care is ‘hampered’ by these falling numbers.
The review on District Nurse Education collected responses from 33 universities and found that 668 district nurses qualified with a SPQ in the 2021/22 academic year, a 6% drop on the previous year. This is despite a government push for primary and community care, through both the NHS Longterm Plan 2019 and the recent Workforce Plan.

Dr Crystal Oldman, QNI chief executive said: ‘The National Health Service is now three years into its Long Term Plan, published in January 2019 and now supported by the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan. Longer term visions for the growth of the workforce are to be encouraged and the number of qualified district nurses is a key component of the workforce.

‘The QNI is concerned that the salary Agenda for Change banding of many qualified district nurses does not reflect the complexity of care they deliver, which is at an advanced level of practice. The DNSPQ is an educational programme designed for the community setting and it should be integral to the Government’s plans to increase the number of skilled, registered practitioners in the community.’

The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan aims to double the number of district nurses by 2028 which will mean a significant increase in university placements. To achieve this, the QNI is pushing for more secure central funding to give employers sufficient time to plan the release of nurses to undertake the DNSPQ programme as well as a focus on the retention.

The QNI warn that without taking these steps, the forecasted shortfall in district nurses will have detrimental impacts on healthcare.