Community nursing 'failing people'
Published on 24 May 2013 11:30 AM
NHS community nursing in England is 'lamentable' and is failing people, a professional nurses group has warned.
The number of district nurses has been slashed by 42% over the last 10 years alone, the Royal College of Nursing pointed out.
The health workers care for patients in residential homes or in their own house.
The NHS had just 12,802 community nurses for the whole of England in 2002, but by 2012 this was stripped back to 7,457, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre which published figures in March.
Peter Carter, general secretary of the nurses' college, said: 'Care closer to home is not only what patients want, it is what UK health services need to do to avoid costly, lengthy and unnecessary hospital stays. However, the number of district nurses has fallen by an astonishing 42% over the last decade.
'Only 5 district nurses were trained in London last year.
'This means that district nurses simply won't be able to keep on giving the increasingly complex care required to meet the rise in demand.
'Sadly, if community services are not adequately resourced, many older people may face being admitted or readmitted to hospital as an emergency.'
Reducing pressure on other parts of the health system
The NHS Confederation's Michael Scott said: 'Across England, patients are clear that they want more and better care provided in their local communities and in their own homes. Increased investment in community-based health services will not only help make this a reality but will also help prevent ill-health and enable early intervention, reducing pressure on other parts of the health system.
'If we get community health care right, patients may not need to attend A&E or be admitted to an acute hospital in the first place.'
England's Chief Nursing Officer, Jane Cumming, said: 'To be able to move care from an acute care setting to home requires a workforce that will be able to meet the challenges and demands of an ageing population and the long-term conditions that older people and the frail and elderly may have.
She claimed: 'The figures referred to relate only to district nurses and although they show a decrease in numbers, over the same period there has been an increase in other types of community nurses of 9,512. The number of community nurses which now includes district nurses has increased by 8.2% over this period.'
Copyright Press Association 2013