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Charity highlights shortage of children’s palliative care nurses

New campaign shows paucity of staff is compromising care
Children's nursing

A paucity of childrens palliative care nurses is compromising care, according to a UK charity.

Together for Short Lives (TSL), which supports families of children with life-shortening conditions, has launched a campaign, You Can Be That Nurse, to encourage more staff into the sector.

The vacancy rate for these nurses stands at 10%, higher than the overall NHS rate of 7%.

Two-thirds of hospices and community services surveyed by TSL reported a shortage of nurses that was threatening care.

Bed closures, and reductions in respite care and continuity of care, were issues identified as being related to the staffing problems.

More than 50,000 children and young people in the UK are expected to have short lives.

Negative impact

RCN Professional lead for children and young people Fiona Smith said it was devastating that the effects of nurse shortages

A paucity of children’s palliative care nurses is compromising care, according to a UK charity.


Photo: iStock

Together for Short Lives (TSL), which supports families of children with life-shortening conditions, has launched a campaign, You Can Be That Nurse, to encourage more staff into the sector.

The vacancy rate for these nurses stands at 10%, higher than the overall NHS rate of 7%.

Two-thirds of hospices and community services surveyed by TSL reported a shortage of nurses that was threatening care.

Bed closures, and reductions in respite care and continuity of care, were issues identified as being related to the staffing problems.

More than 50,000 children and young people in the UK are expected to have short lives.

Negative impact

RCN Professional lead for children and young people Fiona Smith said it was ‘devastating’ that the effects of nurse shortages were being felt by those who needed them most.

‘There is only one chance to get this right for any one child, so the expertise of children’s nurses with specialist knowledge and skills in palliative care can make a huge difference for those with complex needs.

‘In the future, we need to see much more consistent investment in educating and commissioning the right workforce with the right skills and knowledge.’

Good points

Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust community children’s nursing sister Nicky Sennitt said more should be done to highlight the positives aspects of working in children’s palliative care at the start of nurses’ careers.

‘Nurses in training or those in their early nursing years can see palliative care as being quite scary,’ she added.

‘But if more can be done – especially at an educational level – to break down those barriers, that would help make the specialism seem less daunting.’

Ms Sennitt said nurse shortages across the sector would put extra strain on families: ‘You may be the only professional that a family has seen that week and they might need time to offload.’

In the spotlight

TSL workforce and development manager Gillian Dickson said: ‘Our You Can Be That Nurse campaign is about shining a light on the experiences of those working in this field.

‘The varied nature of their role and the opportunity to provide holistic care to a child and their family make this one of the most rewarding roles in nursing.’

Watch the promotional video for the campaign here

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