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Tools required to measure district nursing workforce

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The QNI has released a district nursing workforce planning report of a study commissioned by NHS England.

The study explored how caseloads are managed in the district nursing workforce in order to improve commissioning of the service and to understand how it might need to adapt for a changing population.

The report concluded that two different tools are needed to work together for efficient caseload allocation and workforce planning. The first tool would enable comparison across providers by collating data over a year or number of years to ensure that future demand is aligned with the workforce and budget. The tool would collect robust performance data on local caseloads, local workforce size and skill mix, patient need, services offered and their specifications. Performance across organisations would be compared to produce national workforce planning data.

The report says the tool would increase transparency, assist commissioners with service contract discussions, improve reporting, enable contribution to strategies supporting future workforce requirements and renew focus on outcomes.

The second recommended tool would be a locally tailored operational scheduling tool, which would be used to record and assign work to practitioners based around patient need and practitioner availability.

The tool would help to ensure that tasks were prioritised based on the skills of practitioners. It would also increase workforce efficiency and reduce administration time. The operational tool would be updated frequently and used for daily and weekly caseload management, working within the constraints of the existing workforce. The report states that the two tools must be compatible.

Crystal Oldman, chief executive of the QNI, said: 'Recent social and economic trends have placed increasing demands on district nursing services, increasing caseloads, workforce pressures, and associated risks. It is imperative that commissioners and service providers have the right tools to enable them to understand and minimise risks associated with workforce shortfall and the opportunities for service improvement.'

The QNI consulted representatives across the district nursing service to look at current practice, patient caseload allocation and future requirements of the workforce.

The QNI said it hopes to begin work on the strategic workforce planning tool as soon as further funding is identified. Several pilot sites have been identified.

To read the full report visit: http://www.qni.org.uk/docs/District_Nursing_Workforce_Planning_Report.pdf

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