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Concerns over low numbers of district nurses in training

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The numbers of district nurses being trained are nowhere near the 'replacement level' required to maintain the district nursing workforce, which has shrunk rapidly over the past 10 years as experienced nurses have left the role, according to The Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI).

The report reveals widespread and significant concerns in the number of new district nurses currently being educated, particularly in England.

The QNI compiled the report from information obtained directly from universities, following growing anecdotal evidence about falling numbers of new nurses being trained.

It found
21 per cent of district nursing courses in England did not run a cohort in 2012-13. At least 67 per cent of district nursing courses running in England in 2012/13 had 10 students or less on the programme and 13 per cent had only 5 students or less.

The QNI has called on education, policy and professional leaders to consider the evidence of the report in future education and workforce planning, and suggests that measures are taken to raise the profile of District Nursing as a career. 

Crystal Oldman, chief executive of the QNI said: 'It is essential that there are enough appropriately qualified and skilled district nurses to provide the care patients and carers need. Those with responsibility for commissioning local community nursing services need to recognise the importance of those services being led by an appropriately qualified team leader and commission the services accordingly. 

'Alongside this, those responsible for commissioning the local education and training of the community teams need to ensure sufficient numbers of district nurses are being trained each year to meet the current and the anticipated demand for their services. This should include raising the profile of district nursing as a stimulating and rewarding career option.' 

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