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More children's palliative care nurses needed

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Palliative care nurses are needed in hospice care Palliative care nurses are needed in children's hospice care

A shortage in palliative children's nurses is resulting in reduced care for families, finds children's palliative care charity Together for Short Lives.

Nurses vacancy rates in children's palliative care voluntary sector is currently 10%, higher than the 7% vacancy rate in NHS nurses. The charity's annual vacancy survey shows the negative impact on services is increasing year on year. The shortage is resulting in closing beds, reducing respite and affecting continuity of care.

In 2014, 43% of respondents said they reduced the service offered to families as a result of vacancies, in 2015 this had increased to 65% reporting their vacancies were affecting the amount of care they can offer to families.

'We need to encourage more nurses to join a brilliantly committed, intelligent and hard working group of children’s palliative care nurses who are dedicating their skills and passion to caring for and supporting children, young people and their families,' Barbara Gelb, CEO of Together for Short Lives said.

The charity has launched a campaign, You Can Be That Nurse, to encourage nurses to work in the sector. The campaign includes a film featuring three nurses at different stages of their career in hospice, home and hospital.

It is also asking the UK's governments and healthcare workforce planners to take action to bring the average nursing vacancy rate among voluntary sector children’s palliative care organisations to less than 10% and closer to the NHS nurse vacancy rate. The charity wants the Council of Deans to encourage university nurse training faculties to adopt recognised best practice curricula for children’s palliative care nurse training.

Gillian Dickson, workforce and development manager, said: 'Our You Can Be That Nurse campaign is about shining a light on the experiences of those working in this field and the wonderful opportunity a nursing career in this sector can bring. Government, healthcare workforce planners and universities also have an important role in making sure enough nurses are trained with the skills and competencies to care for seriously ill children.'

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