District nurses should receive mandatory additional training and clarification of their role to ensure the district nursing service remains relevant, a debate at RCN Congress concluded.
Proposing the discussion, Kay Durrant, clinical services manager for Community Health Stockport and chair of the RCN District Nursing Forum, said: 'There has been additional training for district nursing recorded on the NMC register since 1994, but this is not mandatory.
'District nurses' titles are blurred because community nurses have risen up from the district nursing workforce and are seen as separate. Patients and carers do not understand who the district nurse is and commissioners do not understand what their role is. Commissioners will not be able to commission district nursing services if they are not clear of the expertise that is on offer.'
Helen Ballinger, a district nurse and NMC teacher for community nursing for Gloucestershire Care Services, said: 'We need a specialist practical qualification and we need NHS commissioners to support and fund it. This could be measured nationally [across district nursing] so commissioners know what they're paying for.'