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District nurses face extinction

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Urgent investment is required into district nurses to prevent their 'extinction' by 2025, said the RCN in a report released to coincide with its Congress in June.

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, as over a third of the current workforce approaches retirement age.

The RCN has called 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 recommended that these extra posts be 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 necessary activities unfinished due to lack of time. 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 frontline staff.'

The report follows a survey by the QNI,The 2020 Vision: five years on, which also raised concerns about the morale and staffing of district nursing teams.

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

The full report can be accessed at: http://bit.ly/W73Auv.

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