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Shortage of children's palliative care nurses affecting hospice services

Hospices struggle to fill children's nurse vacancies

There is a ‘worrying’ shortage of children’s nurses to care for seriously ill children, a charity has found.

A survey by Together for Short Lives found that in two thirds of voluntary sector children’s palliative care services, a lack of nurses is affecting the care families receive.

On average, 10% of nursing posts in these organisations are lying vacant, which is higher than the average nursing vacancy rate of 7%.

The charity said the shortage, which equates to 150 unfilled nursing posts across 23 hospice and community services, is resulting in:

•    Fewer beds in children’s hospices.

•    A reduction in short breaks for families.

•    Turnover of agency nurses that compromises continuity of care.

RCN professional lead for children and young people Fiona Smith said: ‘This is yet another example of the impact poor workforce planning is having on the health and wellbeing of children, young people and their families. There must be greater investment in children’s nurse training places.’

Together for Short Lives chief executive Barbara Gelb said: ‘There is a worrying shortage of nurses to deliver children’s palliative care and this is having a direct impact on services. 

‘It shows organisations are reducing their care offer, which results in families being unable to access the support they need, especially overnight and at weekends.

'We are working with governments across the UK to make sure they set out a long-term, sustainable vision for children's palliative care nursing so that children receive the best possible care when and where they need it.'

Read the survey results here

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