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District nursing cuts leave older patients stuck in 'vicious cycle'

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Cuts to community care are mounting Cuts to community care are mounting

Older people are forced to turn to A&E as cuts to district nursing leave them without care at home, according to a report from Christie & Co.

Research found there has been a 44% drop in the number of district nurses since 2010, contributing to a steep loss of community care and support. It was also found that 65% more people over age 60 have attended A&E departments since 2008.

READ MORE: The hidden threat to district nursing

Losing their preventative social care, the research indicates an ageing population has become more reliant on acute hospital care. The research was carried out alongside social care industry experts, surveying every local authority and more than 200 leading operators.

Understaffing in the community was also shown to lead to delays in discharging, with more than 2 million in 2016.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) chief executive Janet Davies said: ‘Older people are being let down by a cut-price social care system that struggles to provide basic and dignified care. This report paints a highly concerning picture of the short-sighted approach in recent years.

READ MORE: Financial pressures affecting district nursing

‘It is a vicious cycle with very real human consequences. Vulnerable people are caught between understaffed hospitals, dwindling community care and under-funded residential homes. It cannot continue.’

The RCN called for government investment in community care, as well as nursing expertise, to plug the gaps in district nursing.

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