Boost to community care funding must include more money for district nursing, urges RCN

Prime minister promises £3.5 billion a year by 2023-24

Prime minister promises £3.5 billion a year by 2023-24

Prime minister Theresa May announcing the funding at Kentish Town Health Centre.
Picture: PA

Nurses have welcomed a multi-million-pound boost for primary and community care in England, but have warned that cuts in district nursing threaten the success of the plans.

The spending, £3.5 billion a year by 2023-24, will be used to treat more people at home and in the community, and to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions.

Pressure on staff

Theresa May announced the plans on a visit to a north London health centre this morning, where she said too many people end up in hospital simply because the support that would allow them to be treated or recover at home is not available.

‘The longer a patient stays in hospital, the more it costs the NHS and the more pressure is put on hard-working staff,’ the prime minister added.

‘This needs to change.’

Part of the money will be spent on rapid-response teams, available round the clock, that can provide urgent care in the community as an alternative to hospital.

The teams will comprise nurses, doctors and physiotherapists, and, as well as providing urgent care, they will be able to help patients recover at home.

Funding will also go towards assigning healthcare professionals to care homes, where they will provide tailored treatment and support for residents.

Focus on district nursing

The RCN welcomed the government’s aim of keeping people out of hospital – but with a caveat.

Acting general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: ‘As well as giving people a greater quality of life, this saves our healthcare system money in the long run.’

But she added that the announcement raised questions about who would operate the planned rapid-response teams and dedicated support for care home residents.

‘The number of district nurses employed by the NHS, the backbone of community health services, has almost halved since 2010, and the number of community nursing staff overall has dropped by 15%,’ she said.

‘Investing in an expert district nursing workforce and community services must be the priority to keep patients out of hospital.’

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