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Worsening work conditions for district nurses threatens patient safety

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Worsening work conditions for district nurses Report by QNI finds worrying trends in overtime, caseloads and lacking support for district nurses

According to a report commissioned by the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI), working conditions for district nurses have worsened in recent years, with a rise in unpaid overtime, a lack of training and support, and an increase in demand for services.

The report, ‘District Nursing today: the view of District Nurse Team Leaders in the UK’, is the first review of district nursing since 2014. It covers a range of concerns for district nurse working conditions, including overtime, available support, training and development, all of which appear to have declined since the 2014 report. These findings support the report released earlier this year by the QNI alongside the Royal College of Nursing, which found similar issues.

There are a number of worrying trends found by this review. District nurses reported being overworked and not receiving adequate support and training for the job. Over one in five (22%) respondents reported working at least one day of unpaid overtime every week, and the majority (63%) reported daily incidents of deferral or delay to patient care. Other prevalent issues that were reported were a lack of support both in IT and administration and an absence of training and development opportunities, which was cited as a key factor influencing those looking to leave district nursing.

Dr Crystal Oldman CBE, Chief Executive of the QNI, outlined her: ‘To stem this crisis, what is needed now is a significant programme of investment by government into the training, education and development of a new generation of highly skilled District Nurses, who will become the leaders of community services. We need to return the numbers in the workforce to what they were in 2011, or better. More research is also needed to ascertain the future capacity and capability of a District Nursing workforce that can respond to increasing national demand for the service’.

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