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RCN survey reveals concerns of learning disability nurses

Only one-tenth of learning disability nurses say they have enough time to deliver the right care

Almost three-quarters of learning disability nurses (71%) have witnessed cuts to the services they work in and half are now concerned about patient safety, according to an RCN survey.

There are not enough community services to provide sufficient care and support to people with learning disabilities, according to 95% of the nurses.

The college's UK-wide survey of 1,100 learning disability nurses found 42% have seen a drop in staffing levels.

Only 10% said they have enough time to deliver the right levels of care to their patients.

RCN general secretary Peter Carter said: Learning disability nurses are specialists in what they do, yet there has been a greater reduction in this branch of nursing than in any other area of the workforce.

There is clearly a shortage in this specialist branch of nursing, particularly in England, and the consequences are all too plain to see.

Almost three-quarters of learning disability nurses (71%) have witnessed cuts to the services they work in and half are now concerned about patient safety, according to an RCN survey.

There are not enough community services to provide sufficient care and support to people with learning disabilities, according to 95% of the nurses.

The college's UK-wide survey of 1,100 learning disability nurses found 42% have seen a drop in staffing levels.

Only 10% said they have enough time to deliver the right levels of care to their patients.

RCN general secretary Peter Carter said: ‘Learning disability nurses are specialists in what they do, yet there has been a greater reduction in this branch of nursing than in any other area of the workforce.

‘There is clearly a shortage in this specialist branch of nursing, particularly in England, and the consequences are all too plain to see.

‘It is absolutely essential that people with learning disabilities have access to care and support that allows them to live safely within the community but there just aren’t enough services to make this a reality.’

He added that learning disability nurses are ‘feeling the brunt’ and the government needs to take action.

More than a third (35%) have seen downbanding in their workplace and 23% reported cuts to pay.

Despite commitments by the government following the Winterbourne View scandal to move people with learning disabilities from institutional care into community settings, 64% of those surveyed said patients are often in hospital for longer than they need to be.

Nurses said a lack of funding for services, not having enough learning disability nurses and not having enough community services are the main barriers to delivering the right standards of care.

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